Taranaki into the semis - for now

23rd Oct 2010, 09:35

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Jayden Hayward: Try!

Jayden Hayward: Try!

Taranaki claimed a place in the top four by the skin of their teeth on Saturday, beating North Harbour 49-47 in Albany.

Taranaki claimed a place in the top four by the skin of their teeth on Saturday, beating North Harbou 49-47 in a twelve-try thriller in Albany.

Taranaki came from behind to snatch victory after trailing 32-18 at half-time.

The result lifts Taranaki into third place in the standings on 42 points but they will have to wait on the results of Wellington's visit to Southland later on Saturday and Auckland's home game to Tasman on Sunday to find out if they are into the play-offs.

North Harbour were left to settle for two bonus points as Mike Harris' last-minute conversion to Matt Luamanu's third try from out wide drifted to the left of the posts, denying the hosts a deserved draw.

The teams scored six tries each with Luamanu's second hat-trick of the season just reward for another powerful display while Taranaki centre George Pisi grabbed two tries of his own.

The teams scored six tries each with Luamanu's second hat-trick of the season just reward for another powerful display while Taranaki centre George Pisi grabbed two tries of his own.

After a poor opening period which saw them concede four tries, Taranaki came good in the second half to score four themselves at seal a bonus point and achieve their mission for the day.

A Jayden Hayward try under the posts gave Taranaki the early lead but North Harbour replied with their frrst try when Luamanu charged off the back of the maul to score.

Harbour stormed ahead after lock James King scored two tries in two minutes.

Pisi scored for Taranki soon after the restart thanks to a quick tap penalty from flanker Jarrad Hoeta.

Harbour replied when Luamanu set up prop Tiaone Vea on a surge to the line. He was grounded just short but scrum-half Chris Smylie sniped around the ruck to touch down to give North Harbour a commanding lead at the break

Taranaki's forwards went into overdrive in the second half, maul their way to the line for hooker Mahonri Schwalger to score.

Flying wing David Smith added another try after a break by Samuela Vunisa to reduced the gap to three points.

Smith then set up Vunisa to score in the 6st minutes with a fancy backhand pass to put Taranki ahead.

Luamanu was in no mood to concede the game and he fed off some fine driving play by Vea to storm his way over to reclaim the lead with his second try of the game.

Taranaki came back, however, as Pisi crossed for his second try as the game headed towards a storming finish.

Luamanu's third try proved to be too little too late as the missed conversion left Harbour's hearts broken.

The scorers:

For Taranaki:
Tries: Pisi 2, Hayward, Schwalger, Smith, Vunisa
Cons: Barrett 5
Pens: Barrett 3

For North Harbour:
Tries: Luamanu 3, King 2, Smylie
Cons: Harris 4
Pens: Harris 3

North Harbour: 15 Jack McPhee, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Niko Ratumaitavuki, 11 Josh York, 10 Michael Harris, 9 Chris Smylie (c), 8 Mathew Luamanu, 7 Malakai Ravulo, 6 Tom Chamberlain, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 James King, 3 Taione Vea, 2 James Parsons, 1 James Afoa.
Replacements: 16 Manu Leiataua, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Michael Farmer, 19 Richard Mayhew, 20 Grayson Hart, 21 Ben Botica, 22 Jack Tarrant.

Taranaki: 15 Scott Ireland, 14 Codey Rei, 13 George Pisi, 12 Jayden Hayward, 11 David Smith, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Ben Souness, 7 Johnny Willis, 6 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Craig Clarke (captain), 4 James Broadhurst, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Shane Cleaver.
Replacements: 16 Timo Tutavaha, 17 Carl Camichael, 18 Samuela Vunisa, 19 Chris Walker, 20 Brett Goodin, 21 Willie Ripia, 22 Isaia Tuifua.