Clinical Northland leap up ladder

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Saturday, October 7, 2017    Getty Images

The Taniwha entered the match in fifth place and a point behind Otago in fourth. However, the southerners' 28-36 loss to Bay of Plenty opened the door for the northerners to return to the top four.
They did so with a three-tries-to-one victory over a Hawke's Bay side that were left playing catch up from the fourth minute.

It was a vintage performance from Northland, who were wearing retro jerseys in their final home game of the regular season.

Flanker Dan Pryor scored two tries, but it was Solomon Alaimalo who was the most influential player for the hosts. His ability to break the line and evade defenders gave Northland momentum, and they capitalised.

Trailing 0-7 after five minutes, Hawke's Bay needed some help to try and stick with the hosts. Northland halfback Sam Nock duly obliged with a deliberate knock-down close to the line and he was yellow carded.

Cardiff Vaega was the eventual benefactor after another beautiful kick through from Ihaia West that Northland failed to clear.

Defensively, however, Hawke's Bay were left scratching their heads as the hosts offloaded at will in front of an entertained crowd at Toll Stadium.

Northland's second try minutes before half-time allowed the score to blow out somewhat to 17-7. They extended that margin to 20 points with a deserved try to Rene Ranger, who was put into space by charging hooker Matt Moulds.

The icing was put on Northland's cake when lock Tim Bond finished the match with the team's bonus point try to see them take maximum points from a dominant performance.

Hawke's Bay, however, were left dejected as they tasted defeat for the eighth time in nine matches.

Northland 34 (Dan Pryor 2, Tim Bond, Rene Ranger tries; Peter Breen 2 con, pen, Dan Hawkins con, pen) Hawke's Bay 7 (Cardiff Vaega try; Ihaia West con). HT: 17-7.