Ngatai knock key issue
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.
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.
Competition leaders Canterbury put on a second successive stunning Ranfurly Shield defence, in dismantling Counties Manukau 78-5 in Christchurch on Wednesday night.
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.
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.
Tasman have climbed into fourth spot on the premiership ladder after holding on for a dramatic 29-27 win over Otago in Dunedin on Saturday evening.
The Makos were up 29-13 early in the second spell thanks to referee Mike Fraser awarding a penalty try and sin-binning Otago first five-eighth Josh Ioane for an intentional knock-down.
But it was soon 14-apiece when the visitors had captain Alex Ainley yellow carded for a ruck infringement, then just two minutes later centre Levi Aumua was red-carded for a tip tackle, as Otago scored two late converted tries.
In a battle of the desperates, Counties Manukau prevailed against Hawke’s Bay in their national provincial rugby clash in Pukekohe on Sunday.
With both teams not having tasted victory since week one, each was particularly hungry in this crossover clash, and while the sides largely played like their records suggested, it was the Steelers who in the end ran away 33-14 winners in a bonus-point effort.
Not even seemingly unbeatable Canterbury are immune from the quick backup.
Four days after topping 70 points in a Ranfurly Shield defence against Counties Manukau, the runaway red and blacks were given some capital punishment by Wellington to wrap up week five.
Wellington produced a stunning 60-14 win over Canterbury as a storm whipped through Westpac Stadium on Sunday.
A long range Savea try from a Jackson Garden-Bachop intercept, then a stunner from hooker-of-themoment Asafo Aumua, saw Wellington lead 17-7 at halftime before two chargedown tries saw them bolt to 31-7 with 30 minutes left.
As the rain tumbled the floodgates opened late, as Wellington scored 43 second half points and eight tries in all.
All Blacks wing Nehe Milner-Skudder looks like he’s heading for a tough landing as he loses a high ball.