Planet Rugby

Auckland weather Waikato storm

08th September 2012 07:32

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Hadleigh Parkes Trent Renata auckland v waikato

Aucks: Hang on for victory

Auckland climbed to first-equal on the ITM Cup table after defeating Waikato 32-22 at Eden Park on Saturday.

The hosts cruised to a comfortable 32-15 lead midway through the second half, but Waikato stormed back into contention as they battered their opponent's defensive line in the final quarter of the game.

However Auckland managed to weather the storm as they repelled wave after wave of Waikato attack to score their first win against the Mooloos in two years.

Both teams knew this heavyweight clash would go a long way to defining their seasons, and Auckland certainly stamped their authority as serious title contenders with a bonus point win, while at the same time denying their opponents a solitary point.

Eden Park celebrated heritage day today as perhaps the youngest ever Auckland team took to the field to acknowledge and salute the players that had gone before them.

They old boys would have certainly left the stadium happy in the knowledge there is an exciting new generation taking the reigns of the Provincial Union.

The home side's exuberant backline was once again on fire as they ran in three of Auckland's four tries, while the visitors were content to play to their strengths, keeping it in tight as all their tries came from the forwards.

Fullback Charles Piutau was the star of the show at Eden Park last week as he scored a hat-trick against Manawatu, and he picked up from where he left off to open the scoring for Auckland in the ninth minute.

Following a good bust from powerful wing George Moala, Piutau slotted into first receiver and had too much pace and strength for his opposite number as he crashed over the try line.

Anscombe added the extras and slotted a penalty kick 10 minutes later to extend the home side's lead to 10-0, but Waikato responded immediately.

Keeping the ball in tight, the Mooloos rumbled forward through the pick and go, and finally flanker Zak Hohneck burrowed his way over the whitewash.

Piutau again threatened as he carved up a porous Waikato defence, but he couldn't quite find the support required.

However he contributed to Auckland's second try as he made a half break before passing to Hadleigh Parkes who raced down the sideline and offloaded to Moala.

From the ensuing ruck, the ball was spun wide through the hands and centre Malakai Fekitoa had too much pace for hooker Marcel Cummings-Toone to touch down in the corner.

Auckland's forward pack more than matched the bruising physicality of their counterparts as they repelled continuous barrages close to the try line.

However after holding them out for what seemed like an age, all the hard work was undone as they lost their own feed to a five metre scrum and Waikato number eight Alex Bradley barged his way over the try line.

Anscombe and Renata traded penalties either side of halftime before Joseph Edwards and George Moala crossed for tries within three minutes of one another to give Auckland a dominant 32-15 lead.

18-year-old Edwards showed skill and strength far beyond his years when he came on to replace Peter Saili, and his try was a good reward for all the toil done by the engine room, while Moala had too much pace for hooker Cummings-Toone who once again found himself grasping at thin air.

However just when it looked as though Auckland were heading towards a comfortable win, Waikato turned it up a notch and struck back with a second try to captain Richard Bradley as the visitors closed the gap to 10 points with a quarter of the game remaining,

Waikato continued their bombardment of the Auckland defensive line in the dying stages of the game, but the home side finally managed to get a vital turnover as Gareth Anscombe launched the ball deep into the South Stand to celebrate a well deserved win.

The scorers:

For Auckland:
Tries: Piutau, Fekitoa, Edwards, Moala
Cons: Anscombe 3
Pens: Anscombe 2

For Waikato:
Tries: Bradley 2, Hohneck
Cons: Renata 2
Pen: Renata

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PosTeamPPts
1Canterbury15
2Tasman15
3Waikato15
4Taranaki12
5Counties Manukau12