Auckland 32 - 17 Bay of Plenty, ITM Cup
Auckland pass Bay of Plenty test
August 31, 2013
Auckland centre Hadley Parkes put the contest to bed with his 79th minute try
© Getty Images
Auckland wrapped up their third win from as many games in the National Provisional Championship with a four-try, 32-17 win over Bay of Plenty at Eden Park on Saturday. Three second-half tries boosted the Aucklanders after a lacklustre first half, with both teams guilty of too many handling errors in a scrappy, disjointed display.
Bay of Plenty worked hard to disrupt Auckland's flow, slowing play and shutting down the home team's options out wide. Neither side was able to establish any real continuity although, when Auckland finally managed some front-foot ball, they made it count.
Keeping the ball in hand and building phases paid dividends as 30 minutes ticked over, centre Malakai Fekitoa bursting through on the inside to score. With rookie fly-half Simon Hickey adding the conversion, and an earlier penalty, Auckland went into the break with a shaky 10-3 lead.
It took barely 20 seconds for flanker Luke Braid to get the second half firing, winger Lolagi Visinia making the initial break before quick hands flicked the ball wide for Braid to touch down. Bay of Plenty hit back after 53 minutes, winger Kimami Sitauti diving over in the left corner and fly-half Willie Ripia adding two quick penalties to narrow the Auckland lead to 17-14 with 15 minutes remaining.
However, Auckland capitalised on a period of sustained pressure at 70 minutes, Fekitoa drawing the defence superbly for winger George Moala to dive over and give Auckland a 22-14 lead. Another penalty gave Bay of Plenty a glimmer of hope, but Hickey slotted a penalty of his own and second inside-centre Hadleigh Parkes crossed for the bonus-point try on 80 minutes.