Auckland too strong for Otago

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Sunday, October 17, 2010    Getty Images

Scoring a first half try of his own when latching onto a dropped ball off an Otago ruck and toeing it ahead to win the race to the touchdown, unchallenged as he turned out to be, Anscombe then made a telling break in the 54th minute to set up the try of the day. Twice stepping off his right foot, he found wing Joe Rokocoko and in the resulting interchange of passes with flanker Daniel Braid and lock Liaki Moli it was replacement hooker Tom McCartney who scored.

Anscombe was subbed moments later having contributed 17 points, but offering so much more in hope for Auckland's longer term future.

Auckland was always in control of the game which was played in frustrating conditions with numerous handling errors on both side, and went to the break up 24-11 as halfback Toby Morland and centre Isaia Toeava joined Anscombe in scoring tries.

Otago scored a try through prop Halani Aulika when he burrowed his way across the line when his side profited from an Auckland breakdown when the players got too clever attempting a triple reverse pass move behind the advantage line.

Morland's try came after a sniping run by Toeava which saw the halfback dash around the blindside of a ruck close to the line to catch Otago napping as he scored in the corner.

Aulika then replied five minutes later in the 13th minute before Toeava scored as a huge gap opened up in the Otago defences from an orthodox second phase play.

A dropped ball close to an Otago ruck allowed Anscombe to toe the ball ahead and touch down unchallenged and he added his third conversion for good measure. Second five-eighths Glenn Dickson landed two penalty goals for Otago.

Moli was unlucky to have a try in the corner ruled out in the 65th minute. After an impressive build-up after a run by wing Joe Rokocoko Moli went over but television evidence showed his hand slid on the slippery surface a fraction of a second behind he grounded the ball.

The handling mistakes compounded during the second half which became a skittery affair with little continuous play from either side. Otago kept looking for tries, several times taking tap penalties instead of kicking for goal. But on most occasions the tenacious home defence proved superior.

It was from one such breakdown that the final try was scored, Toeava making ground and feeding fullback Brent Ward who kicked ahead and in the race for the touchdown it was wing Rokocoko who scored.


Auckland 39 (Toby Morland, Isaia Toeava, Gareth Anscombe, Tom McCartney, Joe Rokocoko tries; Anscombe 3 con 2 pen; Matt Berquist) Otago 11 (Halani Aulika try; Glenn Dickson 2 pen). HT: 24-11