Northland complete season with great win
November 12, 1999

From Huw Turner in Whangarei In a magnificent game of rugby in Whangarei on Saturday night Northland completed their season in sensational fashion, adding Waikato to their impressive list of scalps, winning 44-37 and in the process very nearly depriving Waikato of home semi final advantage.
The Northland forwards took the game by the scruff of the neck and the whole of the team played with confidence, their 6 tries reward for the flair of their back play and the destructiveness of their play in the loose. They got ahead as early as the 3rd minute, centre Jason Hita squeezing down the right hand flank after being put in the clear by Dan Parkinson.

Every time they moved the ball Northland presented a threat. Although there was an inevitability about Matthew Cooper closing the gap with his first penalty, second five eighth Robbie Johnson added tries in the 25th and 38th minute, full back Taylor converting the second to add to his 25th minute penalty. Cooper added further penalties for Waikato in the 22nd and 49th minutes and centre Scott McLeod showed the strength that made him an All Black to score with a run started just inside his own half.

Waikato started the second half in devastating fashion, Lowen scoring a try, converted by Cooper, to give the visitors the lead for the one and only time in the match.They were then blitzed by further Northland tries through Glenn Taylor, Tim Henwood and Jason Hammond, all three converted by Hayden Taylor, who also added a further penalty. At this point Northland led by 44-23 and Waikato were in danger of being humiliated.

They fought back with further tries from Ben Willis and Keith Lowen , Cooper converted both. So out of the wreckage Waikato managed to salvage 2 bonus points - they scored 4 tries and kept the margin of defeat to within 7 points.

Northland will hope that Wellington defeat Otago on Sunday and deny them any bonus points. The Northlanders would then occupy 6th place. Waikato will host a semi final but they have much food for thought. Their forwards were made to look very ordinary, the Henwood try coming when the Waikato scrum was pushed off its own ball at a 5 metre scrum. That just doesn't happen to Waikato scrums !

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