Planet Rugby

Auckland win in the wet

14th August 2010 06:14

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Lelia Masaga; Dave Thomas auckland v bay of plenty

Auckland: Prevail in tense arm-wrestle

Auckland had their big men to thank after grinding out an 11-6 ITM Cup defeat of Bay of Plenty at a sodden Mt Maunganui on Saturday.

The result means Auckland retain the John Drake Boot and have now made it six consecutive victories over the Steamers.

It was almost Groundhog Day for the Blue and Whites, who like last week against Waikato had to withstand a brutal attacking onslaught from their opponents in the dieing 10 minutes of the game.

But unlike their last minute defeat to the Mooloos at Eden Park, this time their desperate defence was up to the challenge as they held the Steamers out to record a well-earned victory -

Atrocious conditions at BayPark dictated a forward oriented game, with Auckland's pack ripping into their work early to out-muslce their opposition and dominate at scrum time.

Auckland got off to a flying start, Jamie Helleur intercepting an erratic pass from Steamers winger Lelia Masaga and offloading to Daniel Braid who was pulled down just short of the try-line.

But from the ensuing ruck, Auckland had the numbers as hooker Tom McCartney fired a beautiful pass out wide for winger Atieli Pakalani who dived over to score barely three minutes into the game.

But that was to be the only try of the match as the remaining 77 minutes degenerated into a tense arm wrestle, with both teams guilty of making numerous errors in the wet conditions.

With pivots Phil Burleigh and Matt Berquist both landing two penalties apiece, Auckland came close to extending their lead just before the break as Charlie Faumuina, who produced a brilliant performance, barged over the try-line.

But referee Josh Noonan adjudged Faumuina had used Daniel Braid as a shepherd, denying the visitors a try and sending the sodden Auckland team into the sheds with a narrow 11-6 lead.

And that was how the scoreboard looked for the remainder of the game as neither team was able to make any real inroads into the opposition defence.

Auckland looked to have scored the match-winning try midway through the second half as Dave Thomas made a scintillating run, beating his man before drawing in a defender and switching with prop Tevita Mailau who crashed over the line.

But once again Auckland were denied by the match officials as Mailau was ruled to have been held up over the line.

From there all the momentum swung the way of the home side in the final stages of the game as the Steamers camped in Auckland's half and threatened to score on numerous occasions.

Auckland didn't help themselves as they once again committed basic errors to compound the pressure, but in the end their resolute defence was good enough to keep the Steamers at bay as captain Daniel Braid claimed a third win over his younger brother Luke.

The scorers:

For Bay of Plenty:
Pens: Burleigh 2

For Auckland:
Try: Pakalani
Pens: Berquist 2

Bay of Plenty: 15 Toby Arnold, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Brett Mather, 12 Grant McQuoid, 11 Lance MacDonald, 10 Phil Burleigh, 9 Taniela Moa; 8 Colin Bourke (c), 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Luke Andrews, 3 James McGougan, 2 John Pareanga, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Simon Chisholm, 17 Joe Savage/Tristan Moran, 18 Aiden Kuka, 19 Sam Cane/Solomon King, 20 Chad Tuoro, 21 Dan Waenga, 22 Ben Smith.

Auckland: 15 Brent Ward, 14 Atieli Pakalani, 13 Ben Atiga, 2 Jamie Helleur, 11 Dave Thomas, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Toby Morland; 8 Peter Saili, 7 Daniel Braid (c), 6 Onosa'i Auva'a, 5 Andrew van der Heijden, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Liaki Moli, 19 Chris Lowrey, 20 Brenton Helleur, 21 Ash Moeke, 22 Charles Piutau.

Referee: Josh Noonan

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