Wellington edge Harbour
Wellington 21 North Harbour 17 Wellington: North Harbour have yet to fully exorcise the ghosts of 2014 and ‘15 against the Wellington Lions.
In a desperate, frantic and often errorridden Championship clash in the capital, Wellington could thank their 21-year-old first five Jackson Garden-Bachop for the priceless four competition points. He slotted seven penalty goals from seven, while North Harbour scored two tries and will possibly feel hard done by as they go 1-2 after three rounds of the Mitre 10 Cup. The contest was a far cry from the maulings inflicted by the Lions in 2014, when Harbour still harboured a shot at the semifinals, and last season in Albany when, in an abject performance, they crashed 43-0. From the kickoff North Harbour ripped into their work and put serious heat on the Wellington defensive line. Their set-piece was sound, lock Chris Vui prominent in the air and James Parsons even took a tighthead, though he will not be able to take credit for the hook. First five Matt McGahan, looking briefly more like the confident No 10 who won the Bronze Boot from the 2010 trans-Tasman schools international, broke some weak tackles to plough over for the opening try and a 10-0 lead. But soon afterwards Garden-Bachop started swinging his right boot to telling effect, even as the Lions struggled to rediscover their attacking mojo. The breakdown was messy, sides wrestling and kicking the ball through making for an untidy spectacle. Wellington will be in Pukekohe on Friday night for the Jonah Lomu Memorial Trophy clash with Counties Manukau, while North Harbour host Manawatu on Saturday.
Mitre 10 Cup results: Wellington 21-17 North Harbour, Canterbury 52-34 Northland, Tasman 25-20 Taranaki, Southland 16-51 Auckland, Hawkes Bay 20-48 Counties Manukau. Stuff