Anscombe steals the show for Auckland
Sunday, October 24, 2010 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
His goal-kicking potential had already been witnessed this year but he turned on a running demonstration that yielded 34 points with three tries to add to his total.
There were still some helter-skelter moments that will concern Auckland's coaches ahead of the semi-final against Waikato, victors over Auckland in the preliminary round game with a last-minute try.
Anscombe's control was evidenced in the freer role second five-eighths Benson Stanley was able to play, especially in his clean breaks against what has been an effective defence during the year.
No sooner had Tasman first five-eighths James Marshall matched the 16th minute penalty goal of his Auckland opposite number Gareth Anscombe to level the scores, than Anscombe's restart provided the first real chance for his side.
From the Tasman lineout, the ball was slow in getting to Marshall for an in-goal clearance. The five-metre scrum was set and after a series of forward drives at the line halfback Toby Morland walked through a huge defensive hole in the 28th minute for the try.
Anscombe added a second penalty goal in the 37th minute followed by a third one minute after the restart.
Auckland started to find its rhythm 10 minutes into the second half when another bullocking run from Stanley opened up spaces and while centre Ben Atiga and Morland both had encouraging runs the Tasman defences held.
But then Anscombe swivelled his hips at the defenders and opened up a gap to race through in the 49th minute to score and convert.
Stanley and Atiga worked their routines again from the re-start and this time it was fullback Brent Ward who found the gap opening and scored two minutes later.
A brain explosion moment for replacement Shane Christie after a strong run by centre Afeleki Pelenise cost Tasman a try. Christie with the line wide open and only a stride or two away opted to throw the ball infield to flanker Glen Gregory, who almost predictably in the circumstances knocked the ball on.
Fortunately, in the subsequent play, when Auckland couldn't clear its line the ball was entrusted to a specialist in Kade Poke and the battling winger who had looked for opportunities with the ball in hand all day made no mistake.
Soon after Hawkins created another opening and it was Gregory who found himself with the line open again only to be caught in a desperate last-gasp Auckland tackle.
Tasman started to throw everything at Auckland, even to the point of running it from their own goal-line, but their desperation created the turnover.
Replacement hooker Ash Dixon took the ball to feed replacement centre Winston Stanley and out on the wing was Anscombe who showed a nice turn of pace to round his market, Matt Berquist having earlier replaced Ben Atiga.
Then it was replacement halfback Auvasa Faleali'i who created space on the blindside for Ward to race through and feed wing Atieli Pakalani for a 71st minute try.
And in the last act of the game he showed great control to toe the ball ahead and win the race for the touchdown to complete the hat-trick.
Auckland 49 (Toby Morland, Gareth Anscombe 3, Brent Ward, Atieli Pakalani tries; Anscombe 5 con, 3 pen) Tasman 10 (Kade Poki try; Daniel Hawkins con; James Marshall pen). HT: 13-3
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