Auckland were able to claim a bonus-point win in a try-fest as they beat Bay of Plenty 44-38 win over Bay of Plenty in Rotorua.
It was a scoring east for the spectators at Rotorua International Stadium as the two teams scored 12 tries combined. Auckland's victory sees them jump from sixth place on the table to fourth while Bay of Plenty stay in fourth play even though they received two bonus points from the game.
Bay of Plenty won an early in the beginning of the first half after tries from loose forwards Shahn Eru and Joe Tupe both grabbed five-pointers. Auckland showed a lot of tenacity to come back from being down early on as star winger Rieko Ioane dotted down after being set-up by inside-centre Vince Aso.
But the Steamers replied quickly when they set up a drive from the line-out and Tupe was able to score his second try of the match after a hard working display from his team mates to win the momentum going forward.
Winger Lolagi Visinia had the last say of the first half when his Auckland team mates got back into the lead from some silky, fast hand down the line where the flyer had the ball in space and dotted down.
Fly-half Simon Hickey commanded his team with authority as he commanded his side well as Auckland picked up a solid 39-19 lead with 20 minutes to go. Bay of Plenty coach Clayton McMillan then called a number of changes as he attempted to inject some energy back into his side that were now looking down and out.
But the ever industrious Tupe achieved a momentous hat-trick as the Steamers dominated a scrum and the number eight was able to barge over the line and get his side back into the game.
For Auckland, they will be satisfied to pick up the bonus point victory but will be concerned about the way their scrum and defence crumbled under pressure from the Steamers at crucial times throughout the match. Rieko Ioane was again impressive with a hat trick showing his rising status as one of the stars of the game.
Auckland captain Simon Hickey told the official Mitre 10 website after the game.
“We needed it, it was do or die today so we are stoked to get the win. The game see-sawed, if you give the opposition momentum then you are on the back foot from the start so it was far from a polished performance from us.”
Bay of Plenty
Tries: Eru, Tupe 3, Stanaway 2
Cons: Haimona 2, Hollinshead 2
Tries: Visinia, Hickey, Ioane 3, Nanai
Cons: Hickey 5
Pens: Hickey 2
Bay of Plenty: 15 Isaac Te Aute, 14 Regan Ware, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Teddy Stanaway, 11 Elijah Nicholas, 10 Kelly Haimona, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Joe Tupe, 7 Hugh Blake, 6 Shahn Eru, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Keepa Mewett, 3 Pingi Tala'apitaga, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Aidan Ross
Replacements: 16 James O'Reilly, 17 Solomona Sakalia, 18 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 19 Joe Royal, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Te Aihe Toma, 22 Dan Hollinshead, 23 Monty Ioane
Auckland: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Lolagi Visinia, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Joseva Ravouvou, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Jono Hickey, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Josh Kaifa, 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Tom McHugh
Replacements: 16 Blake Hill, 17 James Lay, 18 Isi Tu’ungafasi, 19 Ben Nee Nee, 20 Scott Scrafton, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Liam Steel, 23 Latiume Fosita