Wellington continue to thrash sides with another half-century
ESPN Staff
September 3, 2015
Hawke's Bay pulled away early in the second half to retain the Ranfurly Shield © Getty Images

Counties Manukau 26-37 Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty have belied their lower status by upsetting Counties Manukau 37-26 in a national provincial championship rugby match in Pukekohe. The Steamers, from the second-tier Championship, flew out of the blocks against their Premiership opponents on Sunday and had their bonus point inside half an hour.

They went on to run in five tries for a win that pulls them closer to the Championship's top two of Hawke's Bay and Wellington. Counties Manukau, second bottom in the Premiership, did manage a strong finish, securing their own four-try bonus after half-back Richard Judd and lock Sikeli Nabou scored in the last five minutes.

However, it was Bay of Plenty's dominance in the opening spell that proved the difference and the visitors were on the board after two minutes through fullback Chase Tiatia. They showed good structure and urgency as they added further tries to flanker Shahn Eru and halfback Te Aihe Toma.

Substitute Te Rangi Fraser, on briefly while winger Elijah Nicholas was off for a concussion test, then chased down a kick-ahead to get the Steamers' fourth try. Counties Manukau had earlier managed a reply against the run of play to winger Sione Fifita. They added a second five-pointer early in the second spell through Judd after the Steamers had lock Johan Bardoul sinbinned for a professional foul.

The Steamers had to weather some pressure over the remainder of the match, but winger Whaimotu Craft-Chemis effectively sealed the win 10 minutes from time with a chip-and-chase try.

Northland 7-50 Taranaki

Defending champions Taranaki have used their forward superiority to overwhelm Northland 50-7 in a cross-over provincial rugby match in Whangarei. The Bulls dominated the set pieces as they ran in seven tries to one on Sunday.

Having started the season with three successive losses, Taranaki have now won two in a row to move into the top four of the Premiership. However, Northland are winless from four matches to stay bottom of the second-tier Championship.

Taranaki had already threatened at scrum time when they opened the scoring with a penalty try after Northland's pack collapsed under a big shunt. The home side, starved of possession and territory, showed resilience in defence to keep the score down before their goal line was breached twice just before half-time.

Flanker Toa Halafihi burrowed over from another attacking Bulls scrum before second five-eighth Charlie Ngatai touched down via an intercept. Northland did managed to their hands more on the ball during the third quarter and were rewarded as first five-eighth Dan Hawkins skipped his way over.

But Taranaki pulled away with further five-pointers to skipper Ngatai, centre Seta Tamanivalu and winger Latu Vaeno, who finished with a late brace.

Southland 3-53 Wellington

Jeremy Thrush has bounced back quickly after missing out on All Blacks selection by leading Wellington to another huge win, with the side scoring another half-century and keeping their opponents to only three points.

Scoring three tries, Thrush was a huge presence for Wellington. Opening up the scoring after just four minutes, Thrush combined with Ardie Savea to thread through Southland's defence. The Stags pulled Wellington back with a penalty, but that would be the last of their scoring as Wellington began to run rampant.

While both sides losing a player for throwing punches, Wellington looked the better side, easily cutting through Southland, but their high error count hindered them as they held only a 10-3 lead after 30-minutes. But just minutes before half time, Thrush added a second try to his tally as he stretched out to place the ball on the line.

Returning from the break Wellington made sure to clean up their poor errors and were over the line in minutes with Jonny Bentley went over. He was quickly followed by Leni Apisai and then Thrush earned his hat-trick.

Wellington quickly added another two tries to their tally to bring it to eight tries in the match and easily kept Southland tryless as they struggled without Lima Sopoaga who was ruled out with a hamstring strain.

Hawke's Bay 48-32 North Harbour

Hawke's Bay have repelled North Harbour's Ranfurly Shield rugby challenge, pulling away early in the second half before completing a 48-32 victory in Napier. The result also kept the Magpies top of the ITM Cup's second-tier Championship with four wins from four matches.

The contest on Saturday night provided plenty of tries, Hawke's Bay getting six and Harbour five. Up by just 20-15 at halftime on Saturday night, the home side opened out a comfortable buffer when centre Richard Buckman, No.8 Brendon O'Connor and hooker Ash Dixon all scored in the space of 12 minutes.

Harbour kept their faint hopes alive when replacement flanker Jordan Manihera's touchdown was followed by a penalty try from a driving maul. But they then conceded another five-pointer, to replacement halfback Chris Eaton, although they did have the final say as winger Tevita Li completing a brace.

For the Magpies, first five-eighth Ihaia West landed all his eight shots at goal for an 18-point haul. The defeat kept Harbour near the foot of the Championship. But they were highly competitive in the opening spell when they dominated possession and territory, and might have hit the front but for some poor goalkicking.

They let in an early try to winger Ryan Tongia to fall 13-0 behind, but hit back when Li went over for his first. Hawke's Bay opened the gap again after fullback Israel Dagg crossed, but Harbour produced an excellent line-out drive from which second five-eighth Michael Little barged over.

Waikato 28-50 Auckland

Auckland have produced a big second-half display to beat Waikato 50-28 in a national provincial championship rugby clash in Hamilton. The match on Saturday featured plenty of end-to-end action and there was also a 57-minute appearance by All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina for Auckland as he built up his fitness ahead of the World Cup.

It was Faumuina's second game back after neck surgery and followed the 40 minutes on the field last weekend against Canterbury. Auckland scored seven tries, and the three they bagged in eight minutes early in the second spell swung the balance their way.

With his side down 21-17, winger Ben Lam finished off a length-of-the-field move before replacement forward Taleni Seu and fullback Melani Nanai also touched down. Waikato fullback Shaun Stevenson crossed for the home side's own bonus-point fourth try to close the margin. But the visitors, who used the pick-and-go to good effect, pulled away with further five-pointers to midfielder George Moala and replacement first-five eighth Mitch Hunt.

The result lifted Auckland above Waikato to third in the ATM Cup's Premiership division. Waikato had been first on the scoreboard, first-five Damian McKenzie showing characteristic speed to go through a gap and dot down. Auckland replied through tries to lock Michael Fatialofa and halfback Kaito Shigeno, the latter after a long-range counter-attack.

Half-back Brad Weber sparked the Mooloos' response, the co-skipper scoring from a quick tap penalty. Then, just out from halftime, Weber instigated a brilliant Waikato touchdown with a try-saving tackle on flanker Mitch Karpik. The Mooloos immediately worked the ball upfield and through several pairs of hands before centre Anton Lienert-Brown scored.

Earlier, former All Black Stephen Donald's return to New Zealand rugby was delayed by a niggling hamstring injury. The Waikato first-five, who kicked the winning goal in the 2011 World Cup final before heading overseas, was a late withdrawal after having been named on the bench.

Otago 17 - 34 Tasman

Tasman have climbed back to the top of the national provincial rugby championship with an entertaining 34-17 win over Otago in Dunedin. The Makos scored four tries to gain the bonus point that edged them above Canterbury on the Premiership table, both sides starting the season with four straight victories.

Tasman were on the board within a minute against opponents from the second-tier Championship and they were never headed on Friday night. Their bonus-point try came early in the second half when fullback Robbie Malneek finished a long-range attack. But in a contest in which both teams were willing to move the ball, Otago never gave up.

They got three tries of their own and finished the stronger, having the final say nine minutes from time when No.8 Charlie O'Connell touched down after a big break-out. The result left Otago, who had upset defending Premiership champions Taranaki in the previous round, with a 1-3 record and in the bottom half of the Championship.

As Canterbury did in their 57-7 drubbing of Manawatu the previous night, Tasman needed just 45 seconds to get their first five-pointer. An incisive break by first five-eighth Marty Banks led to halfback Billy Guyton going over. After winger Mitchell Scott got the Makos' second try to help push the score to 17-0, Otago struck back through their forwards.

They used one of their noted strengths, the line-out maul, to score through flanker Adam Knight. Lock Tom Franklin got their second touchdown after the forwards had rumbled the ball towards the line. But Tasman reasserted their dominance late in the opening spell. A Banks penalty was followed by a huge Guyton break that resulted in lock Marco Kotze forcing his way over after the hooter.

Manawatu 7-57 Canterbury

Canterbury maintained their unbeaten start to the national provincial rugby championship, cruising to a 57-7 victory over Manawatu in Palmerston North. The visitors ran in nine tries, six in the opening 35 minutes on the back of a dominant scrum, powerful lineout drive and good continuity, and leaky Manawatu defence.

They were on the board after 45 seconds, fullback Marshall Suckling dotting down after a big break from flanker Tom Sanders. Halfback Mitchell Drummond and Rob Thompson followed up with tries, and the score was 19-0 after just eight minutes. Lock Dominic Bird, hooker Ben Funnell and winger Johnny McNicholl touched down to keep the points ticking over.

Manawatu got on the board when lock Fraser Stone powered over shortly before half-time, and the newly-promoted Turbos continued to make it more of contest in the second half but conceded further five-pointers to Thompson and Suckling. Thompson completed his hat-trick when he chased down a kick.

Taranaki 17-10 Countie Manukau

Taranaki have picked up the first victory of their ITM Cup title defence after three narrow losses, skipper Charlie Ngatai pivotal in setting up two tries and directing a sterling second-half backline effort.

The Bulls dominated possession and territory in a largely foregettable first 40 minutes at a rain-drenched Yarrow Stadium, but Counties Manukau contested well at the breakdown and handling errors cost the champions on the rare occasions they threatened the line.

Taranaki's Seta Tamanivalu fends Ben Lam of Auckland, Auckland v Taranaki, ITM Cup, Eden Park, Auckland, on August 23, 2015
Seta Tamanivalu © Getty Images

Taranaki finally started stringing phases together after the break, and Seta Tamanivalu touched down barely five minutes into the stanza after Ngati had sliced through the midfield from a solid attacking lineout. Kurt Baker, playing his 50th match for Taranaki, extended the lead as the hour mark ticked over after Ngatai and broken the line and offloaded to the full-bac, but Counties, who hadn't won since their opening round 36-35 victory over Manawatu, battled back with 70th-minute try from No.8 Ma'ama Vaipulu after solid work with the pick and go.

The Steelers went came close again with four minutes remaining, when Sam Henwood was unable to ground the ball after a canny kick ahead from Maori All Blacks hooker Hika Elliot, but Taranaki, finally playing at the right end of the field, had little difficulty in holding on for the win.


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