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Harbour learns from previous clash

Photosport

Friday, October 14, 2005    NZPA    Photosport

Auckland won the Air New Zealand NPC round one clash at Albany 27-10, and were well worth the victory. But Harbour took their lumps and have got better as the competition progressed.

The lesson from that night was not to run before they walked.

"We were definitely over-confident before the game," Veale said.

"Just because we beat them the year before didn't mean you're just going to front up to win the following year. They showed us the intensity we should be playing at, and not to take things for granted."

The Harbour of that August 13 match bear little resemblance in form and confidence to that lining up at Eden Park on Saturday.

"We've stuck together," Veale said.

"It's been a tight-knit unit and that's what has got us through. We're all playing for each other."

Veale, at 28, epitomises the unsung hero every pack needs to succeed.

After two knee reconstructions in 2001-02, he moved from Canterbury in 2003, has played more than 30 games for Harbour and is a highly valued operator at the core of the pack.

His philosophy about facing Auckland is typically uncomplicated.

"We're quietly confident. We're on a good roll with four wins, and you only have to win by a point. You don't have to score four tries."

Harbour named an unchanged starting XV, with captain Rua Tipoki at second five-eighths after shaking off a niggly quad muscle injury.

The only alterations are on the bench, where Adrian Donald replaces Tony Coughlan as backup prop and Regan Tamihere comes in for Rodney Voullaire.

The ability to field essentially the same team for several weeks has been a key feature of Harbour's ride to the semifinals for the fifth time. The only variations in the pack have been Tony Woodcock coming in at loosehead prop for Tony Coughlan for the last two round-robin games, and Anthony Boric edging out Brent Wilson at blindside flanker in the latter rounds.

Harbour have made one final, losing to Auckland in 1994. By contrast, Auckland have won the first division title seven times since the play-off system was introduced in 1992.