Anxious wait for Taranaki captain after another head knock
Concussion to Charlie Ngatai was the major point of note to come out of week five of the national provincial rugby competition and there’s an anxious wait on the Taranaki captain’s health after he suffered another worrying head knock on Friday night.
Ngatai was to be assessed on Monday, after he left the field during the first half of his side’s 29-7 Mitre 10 Cup victory over Bay of Plenty in New Plymouth, after a head clash with one of the visitors’ props, Jeff Thwaites.
It was immediately clear Ngatai was dazed by the impact and team doctor Steve Smith took him straight from the field, where he then failed a head injury assessment.
The 27-year-old one-test All Black spent a year out of the game with concussion symptoms before returning for the Chiefs in Super Rugby in May. After one match back he was sidelined again for a further three fixtures following a head knock at training, so the latest blow will certainly add plenty more angst.
While his side were at times lacking direction in their latest contest, they managed to march on to a fourth win from five starts, secure a bonus point, and sit third on the premiership ladder.
One point ahead of the Naki are the five-from-five North Harbour, who got out of jail for a 31-22 win over Northland in Whangarei on Thursday night.
Harbour had been well below what they had showed prior in this campaign, but, even after trailing 22-17 with seven minutes to play, managed to keep their unbeaten start to the season intact, as Ben Volavola sliced through, then Matt Vaega plucked an intercept for a 40-metre runaway.
Speaking of runaways, competition leaders Canterbury put on a second successive stunning Ranfurly Shield defence, in dismantling Counties Manukau 78-5 in Christchurch on Wednesday night.
Halfback Mitchell Drummond scored a remarkable four first-half tries, while Tim Bateman bagged a hat-trick, as the red and blacks ran in 11 in total to stunningly again post 78 after doing so against Southland the week before.
Their next defence is in a fortnight against Waikato, whose form has tailed off big time after losing a third straight game - 23-10 to championship side Manawatu in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon.
The Mooloos led 10-3 nearing the hour-mark, but a try off the back of a powerful scrum from Hamish Brewer - son of former All Black Mike - then the boot of Jade Te Rure guided the Turbos to victory, and into fourth spot on the championship ladder.
Waikato, having played one more game than the three teams above them, now sit fifth in the premiership, and even Auckland are only now three points back, after they notched just their second win from six starts in a 27-17 result over Southland in Invercargill on Friday night. The hosts opened the scoring after just three minutes but they remain the only winless team in the competition as All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino got the visitors’ account started, with Auckland going on to collect the bonus point.
Israel Folau dives to score his second try during the Wallabies’ win.