ITM Cup - Round 3 Review
Yellow fever derails Waikato
August 15, 2010

A controversial brace of yellow cards undid Waikato in Hamilton on Sunday as they slipped to a 33-23 ITM Cup loss to Taranaki.

Down 30-9 with 25 minutes remaining, Waikato charged back into contention with converted tries to lock Romana Graham and centre Save Tokula but couldn't overcome their numerical disadvantage in the closing moments.

Graham and captain Liam Messam were sent to the sin-bin by referee Nick Briant for throwing punches in an incident that appeared to have been sparked by a blow on Messam from Taranaki hooker Laurence Corlett, who escaped punishement.

The hosts bravely kept the scores level at 30-23 until a late penalty robbed them of a losing bonus point. It ended Waikato's unbeaten start to their campaign, with the damage having been done as Taranaki had all guns blazing in the first half. Their pack dominated possession superbly, laying a platform for backs Andre Taylor and Kurt Baker to zip over for the first two tries.

Flanker Scott Waldrom bagged another on the stroke of halftime, putting his team 27-9 up, with Waikato depending on three penalties from first five-eighth Trent Renata for their points. Taranaki spent much of the second spell defending against rejuvenated opponents, with Messam setting up Tokula with a sizzling bust which appeared to have them on course to overhaul the deficit before ill-discipline proved their undoing.

David Holwell rolled back the years with a starring role in Northland's 77-8 win over a hapless Manawatu on Sunday

Holwell, 35, set up a try, scored one himself and kicked a penalty and conversion for good measure as Northland rebounded from last week's narrow 24-25 defeat to North Harbour. Northland skipper Jared Payne enjoyed himself with four tries while fullback Lachie Munro banked a total of 32 points from two late tries, two penalties and eight conversions.

Big things were expected of Manawatu after their big-hearted performance in the last round against Canterbury in which they led for 60 minutes before losing 26-27. But what turned up in Whangarei was a far cry from that side as Manawatu threw up a porous defence in the first half to allow Northland to lead 30-8 at half-time.

Flanker Dan Pryor and Payne with two scored Northland's first half tries while Manawatu struck back through prop Ma'afu Fia. Payne's second try was a gem as Northland, counter attacking from inside their 22, needed only five passes to get the ball to their skipper to dot down. Holwell got his try by plucking an attempted chip kick by Hadleigh Parkes, opening the floodgates for six further Northland tries.

Auckland had their big men to thank after grinding out a 11-6 ITM Cup defeat of Bay of Plenty at a sodden Mt Maunganui on Saturday.

Neither team could maintain possession for long periods due to dreadful conditions at Bay Park Stadium, leaving an early try to Auckland winger Atieli Pakalani to prove the difference.

That lone try was unconverted before opposing No.10s - Auckland's Matt Berquist and Bay of Plenty's Phil Burleigh - traded two penalties each prior to half time.

The second spell was a scoreless affair, with the hosts dominating much of the closing quarter but struggling to break through, even when Auckland flanker Onosai'i Auva'a was shown a yellow card for persistent infringing in the closing minutes.

Later on Saturday, the feelgood story of the ITM Cup nearly got a whole lot cheerier but Southland managed to withstand an immense Ranfurly Shield challenge from Counties Manukau in Invercargill.

The holders clung on 13-9, aided by the game's only try, to hooker Jason Rutledge in his 99th match for the unfancied southerners. Southland never trailed, but equally they were never comfortable against a Counties Manukau side who threw everything into taking the Shield to a province that has never held it despite coming close on numerous occasions.

Rutledge burrowed over from a maul in the 27th minute and the try was converted by fly-half Robbie Robinson, who missed two early penalty attempts but was accurate with his remaining efforts, a 43rd minute dropped goal and 54th minute penalty.

Each time Southland scored, the challengers bounced back through a penalty to No.10 Baden Kerr but his three three-pointers weren't enough to stop Southland retaining and taking top spot.

Wellington secured a winning farewell for coach Jamie Joseph in Dunedin on Saturday, but the Highlanders-bound former All Black will have been unimpressed with his side's 35-22 victory over winless Otago.

The Lions managed to rebound from last week's shock 25-31 loss to Counties Manukau with star turns from first five-eighth Fa'atonu Fili and young wing Julian Savea helping them to a bonus-point.Savea scored one in each half, his first a brilliant solo effort from 40 metres and his second a regulation dab down after collecting a cross-field kick from Fili.

Fili was in fine kicking form to post 15 points for Wellington including two sideline conversions and two penalties from beyond 45m.Otago were unable to capitalise on a flying start after second five-eighth Josh Tatapu gave them the lead with an opportunist try from Wellington's kickoff.

Wellington took the lead after lock Jeremy Thrush finished off a powerful burst by No.8 Faifili Levave.Otago's second try of the half was scored by fullback Chris Small after Wellington's defence missed a couple of tackles but with Fili converting the tries by Savea and Thrush and adding a penalty later, Wellington took a comfortable 17-12 lead at halftime. Otago opened scoring in the second half with a Glenn Dickson penalty but from then it was nearly all Wellington.After Savea scored, halfback Alby Mathewson dotted down by the upright and Wellington comfortably led 35-15 until Otago wing Fetu'u Vainikolo snatched one back.

Champions Canterbury produced a seven try display to trounce North Harbour 44-22 in Friday's clash in Christchurch.

The two-time defending champions struggled to find their rhythm through the first two rounds but moved up a gear in a lop-sided match which finished with a scoreline that flattered the visitors. Michael Harris's try had stunned the hosts early on, but Canterbury recovered to lead 22-10 at the break thanks to an edge at the set piece and their more dangerous running backs.

One of them was centre Robbie Fruean, who along with highly-skilled lock Isaac Ross were the pick of a Canterbury side operating at a level above Harbour, who lacked cohesion and ambition for long periods.

The visitors scored the opening try through Harris and crossed late via centre Jack Tarrant and wing Josh York but then proceeded to concede two tries in the last three minutes, to Fruean and Ross.

Both teams were coming off one-point wins but Canterbury, who started the round in fourth place enjoyed a far more effective kicking game than 11th-placed Harbour, based around the extra possession won by their pack. Harbour's Harris had his team 10-3 after 12 minutes courtesy of a try, conversion and penalty.

However, the hosts warmed to their task and the tries followed through winger Sam Monaghan, flanker Matt Todd and Fruean before halftime -- many created by the incisive playmaking of Colin Slade and Stephen Brett. Fruean secured the bonus point, before young winger Telusa Veainu continued the rout after the break before the late glut of tries were sparked by Fruean.

Tasman picked up a 21-7 upset win over Hawke's Bay in Blenheim on Thursday, heaping further problems on the Magpies after last weekend's loss to Bay of Plenty.

Tasman's Marshall brothers, James and Tom, sparked the victory with a try apiece as both teams made the most of their briefly returning All Blacks - Israel Dagg and Zac Guildford running strongly for Hawke's Bay, and prop Ben Franks strengthening an already solid Tasman scrum. Hawke's Bay did, however, sorely miss flanker Karl Lowe, who was ruled out at late notice with a hamstring injury.

The home team which snared the first try as with Hawke's Bay camped deep inside the Tasman 22, James Marshall showed a fine eye for an intercept as Bay tried to launch an assault on the line from a quick penalty tap.

It took Hawke's Bay another 20 minutes to respond, first five-eighth Daniel Kirkpatrick sparking the counterattack with an initial breakout which finished when fullback Dagg dotted down at the other end. Tasman replied with a James Marshall try three minutes later.

The 14-7 lead expanded 10 minutes later, again from a turnover, as Hawke's Bay proved lax at the breakdown, and Tom Marshall scooped up the loose ball and sprinted clear for the try.


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