Harbour & Canterbury do it again
Saturday, August 27, 2005 allblacks.com Fotopress
In a match that saw a standout two-try performance from North Harbour centre Anthony Tuitavake, the unshakable boot of Canterbury fullback Ben Blair kept his team in touch.
The draw now leaves Waikato poised at the top of the Air New Zealand NPC points table.
Earlier, despite possessing home advantage, laboured play from Harbour allowed Canterbury to initially dominate the match - lock Kevin O’Neill the first over the line in the 5th minute. Fullback Blair converted.
No 10 Tusi Pisi responded for the locals with a penalty.
A rising penalty count and unforced errors ensured the visitors took their foot further of the pressure-pedal, before a smashing ball n’ all tackle from Harbour's Tuitavake created the turnover that culminated in flanker Tom Harding scoring a fine try.
8-7 and North Harbour held a one-point lead as the first quarter drew to a close. Pisi had several opportunities to extend that margin but failed to find the posts. Instead, Christmas came early for the Cantabs as Harbour No 8 Nick Williams popped up a pass 6m out from his own line... right into the waiting mitts of opposition first-five Cameron MacIntyre.
McIntyre ran centre Casey Laulala in for the softest of tries. Again, Blair converted before Pisi found his kicking feet, landing his second penalty.
Halftime score: 14-11 Canterbury
Blair opened the scoring in the second 40 before Tuitavake got involved again – hitting the ball at pace for a 47th minute try. The tough-tackling No 13 soon bagged his second on the back of a break from hard-working flanker Harding.
A long period of tense and at times loose play followed before Blair kept his 100% kicking record intact with a penalty twelve minutes from time, closing the gap to three at 23-20 North Harbour.
He levelled the scores shortly afterwards.
After missing a conversion out in front, replacement Harbour No 10 Jon Elrick had the chance to put his side in front from 40m out, but his 77th penalty was the homeside’s second of the day to ricochet off the uprights.
Harbour continued to press as the seconds ticked away, but couldn’t hold onto possession.
Final score: 23-all.
Tries: Kevin O’Neill, Casey Laulala. Conversions: Ben Blair (2). Penalties (3)
North Harbour. Tries: Tom Harding, Anthony Tuitavake (2). Conversions: Tusi Pisi. Penalties: Pisi (2).
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