Auckland extend Eden Park run
August 3, 2011
A bloodied Sean Romans leaves the field following Otago's victory over Counties Manukau © Getty Images
Auckland stretched their 70-year winning streak over Southland at Eden Park with a 39-26 win in their ITM Cup clash on Wednesday night.
Auckland dominated the second 40 minutes with some solid defence, excellent work at the set piece and a pacey back division and managed to hold off a late Southland revival in the closing 10 minutes. Centre Hadleigh Parkes grabbed the first try for the hosts but Southland soon hit back through fullback Glen Horton before fly-half Scott Eade added another. But Auckland regained the lead with a try from Chris Lowery helping them into a 15-12 lead at the break.
Gareth Anscombe stretched Auckland's lead with the first points of the second half before former All Blacks winger Joe Rokocoko latched onto a loose ball at the breakdown rocketed away for the easiest of tries. Anscombe converted, then soon after ran wide off the back of an excellent Auckland scrum, fending off replacement halfback Scott Cowan on the way to the tryline.
Southland replied through centre James Wilson with 10 minutes remaining before flanker Tim Boys grabbed a bonus point score for the visitors with five minutes remaining. However, Auckland's injury-hit forward pack fronted up, and replacement prop Pauliasi Manu wrestled over with two minutes to go to put the result beyond doubt.
Otago made the most of limited opportunities to steal an unlikely 30-14 win over Counties-Manukau in their ITM Cup clash in Dunedin on Wednesday night. Counties-Manukau dominated throughout in terms of possession and territory, but Otago excelled in capitalising on their limited chances. Coupled with the accurate boot of centre Glenn Dickson, who was near faultless in contributing 20 points, Otago stole an unlikely two-try win - with Johnny Legg and Ben Smith crossing - despite being unable to establish any continuity, field position or possession.
The presence of All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock was not enough to prevent North Harbour losing 32-21 to Manawatu in Palmerston North on Tuesday. The win was their third from five starts, and moves them to the top of the championship table after Hawke's Bay's loss to Tasman earlier in the evening. Woodcock - the 74-Test veteran - came through a solid first half unscathed, and will have pleased the All Blacks management with his form in the opening 40 minutes.
North Harbour led 14-8 at the break thanks largely to fly-half Willie Walker and a late try from winger David Raikuna after the boot of Aaron Cruden and fullback Nehe Milne-Skudder had given Manawatu the lead midway through the half. Manawatu reclaimed the lead with Tomasi Cama crossing the line and his score was followed by another by half-back Aaron Smith.
Cruden's conversion gave the home team a 25-14 lead before Walker crossed and Ben Botica landed the conversion to narrow Manawatu's lead to four, but the visitors never really threatened the line again. And another Harbour defensive muddle in injury time gifted Manawatu the bonus try, an opportunistic effort from Cruden which he then converted.
Elsewhere on Tuesday Tasman recorded their first win of the campaign with a hard-fought 21-19 win over Hawke's Bay in Napier. Both teams scored two tries apiece - with Karl Lowe and Adam Brady crossing for Hawke's Bay and Mitchell Scott and Mark Bright dotting down for Tasman - and it was the boot of captain and centre Andrew Goodman that proved the difference after Hawke's Bay led 14-11 at half-time.
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