Auckland fend off Waikato

Saturday, September 10, 2005    

Seven tries were scored in a match played at almost break-neck speed.

The win leaves Pat Lam's men unbeaten at the top of the Air New Zealand NPC points table.

Second-five David Hill gave Waikato the perfect start with a 4th minute penalty, and things got even better for the visitors when their territorial dominance in the opening exchanges put captain and No 8 Steven Bates over to give them a 10-0 lead after ten minutes.

That margin was whittled away in an instant when form Auckland wing Tony Koonwaiyou took a short-ball from his first-five Tasesa Lavea 26m out and did the rest with ease. Fullback Brent Ward’s conversion pulled the scores level.

Indeed, as Hill did his best to stabilise proceedings with his second three points in the 27th minute, a series of clean linebreaks from Auckland - lock Bradley Mika prominent - rocked Waikato. The pressure had to tell and it did: No 14 Isa Nacewa the spark and lock Curtis Haiu the link to put hooker Derren Witcombe over in the 33rd minute.

15-13 Auckland but Waikato had the last say - turning down a penalty to crash over for a try as the hooter sounded.

Halftime score: 20-15 Waikato

Auckland started the second spell with a scorcher - classic stuff in the 44th minute - as heavyweights John Afoa and Saimone Taumoepeau kept the ball in hand and those straight lines intact for centre Ben Atiga to score a stunning 58m try.

Ward converted and added a penalty to give his team a five-point lead.

25-20 Auckland as a kicking war emerged... Waikato’s Hill landing a penalty and Ward responding in kind: 28-23.

The third quarter. As the pace of the game was beginning to show on players’ faces, Waikato No 10 Stephen Donald had what almost became the last word: wrong-footing the big city defence and breezing through Auckland’s defensive line from 12m out. Try.

30-28 Waikato. Yet it wasn’t to be for the Mooloo men as those free-flowing Auckland linebreaks continued and a fine try to no 12 Sam Tuitupou followed.

On the back of another Mika rampage, Witcombe’s second settled the matter.

Final score: 40-30 Auckland


Auckland. Tries: Tony Koonwaiyou, Derren Witcombe (2), Ben Atiga, Sam Tuitupou. Conversions: Brent Ward (2). Penalties: Ward (3).

Waikato. Tries: Steven Bates, Liam Messam, Stephen Donald. Conversions: David Hill (3) . Penalties: Hill (3)

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