Ter­rifric Tani­wha stay in the hunt

Sunday News - - RUGBY - AN­DREW VOERMAN

PEREN­NIAL strug­glers North­land have given them­selves a solid chance of mak­ing the Mitre 10 Cup Cham­pi­onship semi­fi­nals.

They beat Hawke’s Bay 34-7 in their round eight clash at Toll Sta­dium in Whangarei yes­ter­day, get­ting the re­wards for dar­ing to take a risk with some of their at­tack­ing play.

It didn’t al­ways come off, but it did of­ten enough for them to score four tries to one, and pick up their fifth win of the sea­son, and a bonus point to boot.

With a win in the fi­nal round, where they play the run­away Cham­pi­onship lead­ers, Welling­ton, on Thurs­day, they will make the semi­fi­nals, while they could ad­vance even with a loss, de­pend­ing on how other matches un­fold.

As things stand, they sit sec­ond on the lad­der, with 25 points from nine games, be­hind Welling­ton, and ahead of Bay of Plenty (23 from nine), Manawatu (22 from eight), and Otago (21 from nine).

But with four teams jammed up tight be­hind Welling­ton, and only three semi­fi­nal places on of­fer to them, the Tani­wha could yet be cru­elly de­nied.

Their first try came just three min­utes in, when they won a li­ne­out, fol­low­ing a strong run by Solomon Alaimalo down the left wing.

From the throw, 5m out, they shov­elled the ball to the right, where flanker Dan Pryor found him­self with a mas­sive gap to run into and score. First-five Peter Breen slot­ted the con­ver­sion, to give his side an early 7-0 lead and that set the tone for an af­ter­noon of at­tack­ing rugby.

North­land went hunt­ing a fourth try, and a cru­cial bonus point, as the clock wound down, and they got it with no time to spare, when Tim Bond dived over at the end of a 13-phase at­tack.

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