Taranaki power past Auck­land

Sunday News - - RUGBY - MARC HIN­TON

BANG. That was Taranaki ham­mer­ing the fi­nal nail home on the Auck­land cof­fin for the 2017 provin­cial rugby sea­son.

With an out­stand­ing sec­ond half dis­play at Eden Park, Colin Cooper’s Taranaki side cruised clear of an im­proved, but still er­ror-prone, Auck­land out­fit 49-38, six tries to five, to pretty much end the faint semi­fi­nal hopes for Nick White’s men.

With just a sin­gle win and now four de­feats from their first five matches, Auck­land oc­cupy the sec­ond from bot­tom rung on the Premier­ship stand­ings with just six points. It is too steep a road home from here.

In con­trast Taranaki, with their third vic­tory from four out­ings, im­prove to 16 points and re­main well and truly in the thick of the top-four pic­ture, be­hind the un­beaten Can­ter­bury and North Har­bour sides.

Cooper’s men looked in a lit­tle bit of trou­ble when they trailed 25-19 at half­time against an Auck­land side that looked to have made some im­por­tant im­prove­ments from their bat­tle of the Bridge de­ba­cle last Sun­day.

But they pro­duced an out­stand­ing first 26 min­utes of the sec­ond half to run in three tries with­out re­ply in a 27-3 surge that saw them storm into a 46-28 lead.

From there it was just too big a hole for the Auks to climb out of, MITRE CUP even if two late Vince Aso tries, to bring up a hat-trick for the match, did rather flat­ter the home team on the fi­nal score­board.

Taranaki’s abil­ity to turn er­rors and half-chances into points was the dif­fer­ence. They jumped all over their chances and, be­hind the strong kick­ing of Marty McKen­zie (five con­ver­sions, two penal­ties), were able to put the re­quired dis­tance on their op­po­nents in the sec­ond half.

Auck­land were bet­ter than last Sun­day, but still fell off badly when the er­rors started com­ing a lit­tle too fre­quently.

There were three tries apiece through an en­ter­tain­ing and freeflow­ing first half, though it was

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