Auckland destroy North Harbour


Saturday, October 15, 2005    Phortosport

It was North Harbour's fourth Air New Zealand NPC Division One semifinal loss to their cousins across the bridge and the weekend’s second try-fest - 10 in total scored in a free-flowing match that ran its entire course without a single penalty attempt from either team.

From the start, Auckland were determined to play this game at pace and it paid off as quick hands blindside - No 10 Isa Nacewa prominent - saw super-sized prop John Afoa charge and off-load for lock Angus MacDonald to score in just the 4th minute.

Fullback Brent Ward converted and the sudden deficit failed to spark Harbour as wing Doug Howlett - playing his 50th game for Auckland - broke the line and rampaging hooker Keven Mealamu benefited with his side’s second try. 14-0 Auckland.

More storms in the Harbour in the 20th minute as a Luke McAlister pass to nowhere was collected by Auckland’s MacDonald, who somehow managed to traverse the remaining 60m to the tryline.

Howlett had Auckland’s fourth shortly afterwards:28-0.

The 32nd minute and a fifth Auckland try was beckoning until Ward spilt the ball in the tackle and North Harbour fullback George Pisi swooped. Pisi found wing Vili Waqaseduadua on his shoulder and 55m later the visitors were finally on the board.

But Isa Nacewa wasn’t finished yet... the first-five stepping into space a minute from the break and timing his pass to flying Joe Rokocoko to perfection. Auckland had their fifth try and a 26-point advantage.

Halftime score: 33-7 Auckland

And the hits kept coming: Rokocoko and Mealamu both having clever touches as fast recycling put centre Mils Muliaina over in the right-hand corner in the 42nd minute.

The visitors followed suit in the quick ball stakes and a snappy pass from captain and No 12 Rua Tipoki freed fullback Pisi, who beat two defenders on his way to line.

38-14 Auckland.

Despite some rugged defence from the homeside, Harbour notched up a third try in the 58th minute, closing the margin to 19 points.

Lacking momentum for much of this match, Harbour attempted to lift their game but a consolation try to centre Anthony Tuitavavke (in his quietest game of the season) with four minutes to play was never going to be enough.

Other than a worrying ankle injury to All Black Luke McAlister, time expired without further incident.

Final score: 38-24 Auckland


Auckland. Tries: Angus MacDonald (2), Keven Mealamu, Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko, Mils Muliaina. Conversions: Brent Ward (4).

North Harbour. Tries: George Pisi, Vili Waqaseduadua (2), Anthony Tuitavavke . Conversions: Luke McAlister. Taking the pulse of your rugby Heartland