Auckland hold off plucky Manawatu

Date published: September 9 2015

Auckland held off a brave Manawatu resurgence before securing a 45-28 ITM Cup victory at Eden Park on Wednesday.

Auckland outscored their visitors by five tries to four and their fly-half Simon Hickey impressed with his goalkicking, finishing with a 17-point haul, via three penalties and four conversions.

Ben Lam led the way with a brace of tries for the hosts and George Moala, Sam Prattley and Rieko Ioane scored their other five-pointers.

Auckland made a terrific start and raced into a 27-0 lead after Lam, Moala and Prattley crossed for tries inside the opening half-hour but Manawatu struck back with a Callum Gibbs try.

Hickey, who had earlier slotted two penalties, added another three-pointer from the kicking tee shortly before half-time which gave Auckland a 30-7 lead at the break but Manawatu replied with tries from Valentino Mapapalangi and Semisi Masirewa which narrowed the gap to nine points by the 55th minute.

Lam then had an easy run-in for his second try, which gave Auckland some breathing space, but the Turbos hit back when Fraser Stone scored their fourth try in the 74th minute.

Jono Hickey then added a penalty to give Auckland a 10-point lead before Ioane sealed his side's win with a try shortly before full-time.

The scorers:

For Auckland:
Tries: Lam 2, Moala, Prattley, R Ioane
Cons: S Hickey 4
Pens: S Hickey 3, J Hickey

For Manawatu:
Tries: Gibbens, Mapapalangi, Masirewa, Stone 
Cons: Black 4

Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visini, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 George Moala, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Jono Hickey, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Mitch Karpik, 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Sam Prattley. 
Replacements: 16 Sam Thomas, 17 Isi Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Dwayne Polataivao, 22 Mitch Hunt, 23 Vince Aso.

Manawatu: 15 Semisi Masirewa, 14 Ambrose Curtis, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Hamish Northcott, 11 Nathan Tudreu, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 James Oliver, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 5 Tom Parsons, 4 Valentino Mapapalangi, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Nick Grogan, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16 Rob Foreman, 17 Adrian Barone, 18 Tim Cadwallader, 19 Fraser Stone, 20 Brice Henderson, 21 Toby Morland, 22 Jaxon Tagavaitau, 23 Hamiora Thomas.