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Mitre 10 Cup Review: Week Six

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Sunday, September 23, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Waikato are five points clear in the Championship, although second-placed Hawke's Bay has a game in hand.

Sixth week action was:

Manawatu 19-29 Tasman

It can be tough when having to play two games in a round and Tasman opted to give the bench players starts in Palmerston North. That meant there was work to be done to contain a lively Manawatu side which faced the same predicament. Two in front at halftime, Tasman made good use of its bench and with a lively display from halfback Finlay Christie who stirred the side along for the win which was just as well given how close they were pushed in their second game of the round. Tasman are one point behind Auckland, with Wellington and Canterbury one point behind.

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Northland 26-10 Southland
Taking key points when they are on hand, Northland are proving consistent in the Championship and lifted themselves to third place while Southland are still looking for their first win. Periods of defensive inertia cost the southerners dearly while Northland have developed a level of confidence that ensures opportunities seized are capitalised on to the maximum. It's not the sort of warm-up Southland wanted ahead of a Ranfurly Shield challenge on Saturday.

Bay of Plenty 21-54 Waikato
Waikato demonstrated their desire to make a quick exit from the Championship when claiming a key win to dominate the points table to further highlight their recovery this season. Up 21-7 at the turn, Waikato hit Bay of Plenty hard early in the second half with a chargedown try and the confidence went all in Waikato's direction. Hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho scored twice to make it six for the season – level with North Harbour's Tevita Li.



Hawke's Bay 34-51 North Harbour 
North Harbour produced a stunning finish to finally kill off a positive Hawke's Bay effort at McLean Park. The home team refused to concede ground for 68 minutes of the game when the scores were locked at 34-all. Whether it was the home team getting over-excited sniffing an upset, or sheer doggedness from North Harbour in securing key turnovers, the visitors picked up three late tries to put distance between themselves and the Bay, hooker James Parsons celebrating his ton of games for Harbour by landing the last conversion.

Otago 25-47 Canterbury
Sometimes it is hard to believe there is any disparity between the two levels of the tournament and for 55 minutes that was the case in Dunedin. Otago pulled off some lovely set piece plays but let other opportunities slip. And against a team like Canterbury that is always likely to cost points. So it proved with three tries in eight minutes around the three-quarter mark ending Otago's bid. But there were encouraging signs for the southerners.

Taranaki 30-31 Auckland

If ever a team knows about being down on their luck it is Auckland but they came out on the right side of the ledger when in spite of two conversion attempts in injury time, Stephen Perofeta was unable to steal a win for a desperate Taranaki side. That was on top of Akira Ioane's brilliant start to the game, scoring the first try after only 29 seconds. Auckland stayed top of the points table in their best season for several years while Taranaki could only lament lost opportunities. 



Tasman 21-19 Counties Manukau
It was just as well Tasman scored their 21 points when they did because they faced a storming effort from Counties Manukau as they scored 19 unanswered points. They breathed a sigh of relief when a conversion attempt by Luteru Laulala was wide in the late stages. But a similar effort in Wellington next Saturday could prove a worry for Tasman unless they buck their efforts up. Counties have a chance to gain some vital points when hosting Northland on Sunday.

Wellington 49-7 Manawatu
Things flowed nicely for the resurgent Wellington team who overran their northern neighbours in Palmerston North on Sunday afternoon. That's encouraging as they look to secure a playoffs place in their first season back in the Premiership. But things don't look so good for a Manawatu team who fired some big shots early on without being able to maintain the effort through the middle stages of the competition.