Auckland leave it late

18th Sep 2010, 15:08

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Auckland turned it on in the last six minutes of the game against Manawatu to claim a 32-6 bonus-point win at FMG Stadium in Palmerston North on Friday.

Auckland turned it on in the last six minutes of the game against Manawatu to claim a 32-6 bonus-point win at FMG Stadium in Palmerston North on Friday.

Auckland's third consecutive victory, and their sixth win in eight matches this season, boosts Mark Anscombe's men temporarily into second spot on the ladder with Canterbury still to face Taranaki on Saturday.

Trailing by 6-0 after a dismal first half performance, Auckland had their young and enthusiastic reserves to thank for the victory, with Sean Polwart, Angus Ta'avao, Gareth Anscombe and Brenton Helleur all contributing to a superb finish for Auckland.

With a huge storm engulfing the majority of the country, it was yet another game played in torrential conditions, but unlike last week Auckland were unable to adapt to the wet weather as dropped ball plagued the visitors.

Despite controlling the majority of possession and constructing the best opportunities to score points in the first half, Auckland just could not hold on to the pill, and Manawatu's loose forward trio did a tremendous job in disrupting their ruck ball as the Turbos took a shock 6-0 lead at the break.

Clearly unimpressed with his side's performance, Auckland head coach Mark Anscombe read the riot act at half time and it worked to immediate effect, young lock Liaki Moli bagging his second try in two weeks four minutes in after a botched line-out from Manawatu.

As Anscombe rung the changes in the second half, it was his son Gareth who stepped up to take the conversion before even touching the ball, but the 19-year-old struck it superbly to give Auckland their first lead of the game.

The promising pivot landed two further penalties in a composed performance to push out the score to 13-6 with 20 minutes remaining.

But just as it looked as though Auckland were happy to hang on to a narrow lead and close out the match, three thrilling tries in the final five minutes capped off a remarkable end to the game.

First New Zealand U20 prop Angus Ta'avao crashed over from close range to score, before replacement halfback Brenton Helleur darted through a hole five metres out to dot down with just minutes remaining on the clock.

And with Auckland being awarded a midfield scrum on the 22 metre line after the siren had sounded, Brenton Helleur put in a beautifully weighted grubber kick for flying winger Dave Thomas to dive on and secure an unlikely bonus point victory for Auckland.

The scorers:

For Manawatu:
Pens: Thompson 2

For Auckland:
Tries: Moli, Ta'avao, B Helleur, Thomas
Cons: Anscombe 3
Pens: Anscombe 2

Manawatu: 15 Craig Clare, 14 Shannon Paku, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Frank Bryant (c), 11 Casey Stone, 10 Isaac Thompson, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Hamish Gosling, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Doug Tietjens, 5 Fraser Stone, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Rob Foreman, 1 Donal McNamara.
Replacements: 16 Sean O'Connor, 17 Karl Haitana, 18 Reece Robinson, 19 James Oliver, 20 Karl Bryson, 21 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 22 Lote Raikabula.

Auckland: 15 Brent Ward, 14 Dave Thomas, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Bryce Heem, 10 Matt Berquist, 9 Toby Morland, 8 Chris Lowery, 7 Daniel Braid (c), 6 Peter Saili, 5 Kurtis Haiu, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Tevita Mailau.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Andrew van der Heijden or Onosai'i Auva'a, 19 Sean Polwart, 20 Brenton Helleur, 21 Benson Stanley, 22 Gareth Anscombe.

Referee: Keith Brown