Taranaki snatch semi-final thriller

Date published: October 18 2014

Taranaki scored thee tries in extra time to beat Auckland 49-30 in Saturday’s first ITM Cup semi-final at Yarrow Stadium.

Taranaki scored thee tries in extra time to beat Auckland 49-30 in Saturday’s first ITM Cup semi-final at Yarrow Stadium.

The scores were locked 30-all at the end of regular time but tries from Waisake Naholo, Blade Thomson and Jackson Ormond in added time secured an historic victory for the hosts in an engrossing contest.

Having topped the standings at the end of the regular season, the result means ‘Naki will now host next weekend’s final – their first ever – against either Tasman or Canterbury in New Plymouth.

Led again by the power running of centre Seta Tamanivalu, Taranaki were 24-23 in front at the end of the first half but needed a 72nd-minute penalty from Codey Rei to draw level and force extra time in a ding-dong battle that saw the lead change hands five times and nine tries scored.

Taranaki raced ahead in the early minutes thanks to tries from hooker Rhys Marshall and flanker Mitchell Croswell but an incredible first quarter ended with Auckland 17-14 up as they replied with tries from Gareth Anscombe and George Moala.

James Marshall scored for Taranaki just before the half-hour mark and Rei added a penalty to put the hosts back in front at the interval.

Moala grabbed his second try after the break and Anscombe’s extras put Auckland in pole position in a grandstand finish.

‘Naki had more gas in the tank though as they drew level in the closing minutes of regulation time before romping home in the extra 20 minutes.

The scorers:

For Taranaki:
Tries: R. Marshall, Crosswell, J .Marshall, Naholo, Thomson, Ormond
Cons: Rei 3, McKenzie 2
Pens: Rei 3

For Auckland:
Tries: Anscombe, Moala 2
Cons: Anscombe 3
Pens: Anscombe 3

Taranaki: 15 James Marshall (c), 14 Codey Rei, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Berny Hall, 6 Mitchell Croswell, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Riki Hoeata, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Replacements: 16 Sione Lea, 17 Ryan Cocker, 18 Mitchell Brown, 19 Iopu Iopu-Aso, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Jackson Ormond, 22 Kurt Baker.

Auckland: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 George Moala, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Leon Fukofuka, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Blake Gibson, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Jack Whetton, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Gafatasi Su’a, 17 Nic Barrett, 18 Scott Scrafton, 19 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 20 Junior Poluleuligaga, 21 Francis Saili, 22 Simon Hickey.

Venue: Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Kane McBride, Damian Botherway
Television match official: Aaron Paterson