Auck­land U-19s take ti­tle

Waikato Times - - SPORT - AN­DREW VOERMAN

Auck­land have turned in a strong sec­ond-half per­for­mance to beat Waikato 30-17 in the fi­nal of the Jock Hobbs Me­mo­rial Na­tional Un­der-19 Tour­na­ment and claim the Graham Mourie Cup.

They had been dom­i­nant all week at Owen De­lany Park in Taupo¯, beat­ing Manawatu¯ 71-5 and Can­ter­bury 44-10 in their first two matches, but faced a tougher ex­am­i­na­tion on Satur­day, from a Waikato team that hung with them for a half, but no longer.

Auck­land be­come the fourth dif­fer­ent prov­ince to win the tour­na­ment, which is in its fourth year, join­ing Welling­ton, Can­ter­bury, and Waikato, who were the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons.

Hav­ing let a 12-point lead slip at the end of the first half, Auck­land went back in front four min­utes into the sec­ond half, when play­maker Wiseguy Fa­iane broke through Waikato’s line, and set up Caleb Clarke for a try on the left flank with a glo­ri­ous cut-out pass.

Four min­utes later, they ex­tended their ad­van­tage, when winger Si­ave To­goiu pulled out a left-footed chip and chase down the right flank around half­way, and sprinted past the Waikato de­fence to make it 24-12.

The game threat­ened to take a twist in the 48th minute, when Auck­land open­side Sione Tal­i­tui was shown a yel­low card, af­ter throw­ing a punch in a skir­mish off the ball with his Waikato op­po­site, Ja­cob Nor­ris.

But Waikato couldn’t get con­trol of the ball for long enough to do any­thing with it, and af­ter breath­ing a sigh of re­lief when Harry Plum­mer missed one penalty, they were put 15 points be­hind as he nailed an­other at­tempt a few min­utes later.

Tal­i­tui - who was given the Sir DJ Graham award as player of the tour­na­ment - re­turned with 13 min­utes to play, hav­ing seen his side ex­tend their lead while he sat, but it was re­duced soon af­ter, when Jack­son Mor­gan crashed over and made it 27-17.

Waikato still needed two more tries in the fi­nal 10 min­utes af­ter that, an equa­tion which didn’t change even when Plum­mer added an­other penalty with four min­utes to go, to push Auck­land’s lead out to 13.

With such lit­tle time re­main­ing, the gap proved too big to bridge, and so Waikato re­lin­quished their ti­tle.

The two teams couldn’t be sep­a­rated at half­time, with Auck­land cen­tre Tanielu Tele’a and Waikato first-five Liam CoombesFabling each nab­bing a brace in the first spell.

Tele’a scored his two tries first, ben­e­fit­ing from the cul­tured kick­ing game of Fa­iane.

In the 11th minute, the Auck­land first-five sent a del­i­cate chip in be­hind the Waikato de­fence, for Tele’a to dive onto and score, then in the 20th, he did the same thing, but in mid­field.

That kick was to the left flank, where Waikato full­back Josh Moorby made a mess of things as he tried to gather the ball in, and so Tele’a was able to grab it and run to the line.

Sec­ond-five Plum­mer slot­ted one of the two con­ver­sions, and down 12-0 to the favourites, Waikato could have eas­ily crum­bled then and there, but CoombesFabling had other ideas.

In the 28th minute, he made the most of some hard work by his front row­ers, who had a cou­ple of good car­ries up the mid­dle of the field, even­tu­ally slic­ing through the Auck­land de­fence from close range.

Then, right on half­time, Waikato had a scrum 5m out, on the right touch­line, and af­ter a short drive, it came to the first-five, who shrugged off one tackle then bat­tled his way over the line, with Tom Jor­dan adding the ex­tras to level it up.

They just couldn’t re­peat their es­cape act a sec­ond time. The Wal­la­bies have cracked their first win of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, com­ing from be­hind to top­ple Ar­gentina 45-20 in Can­berra on Satur­day.

Su­per­star full­back Is­rael Fo­lau scored a try in each half to set up the much-needed vic­tory.

The Aus­tralians headed into the match af­ter two losses to the All Blacks and a draw last week­end with South Africa, but the win didn’t come easy against the gritty Pu­mas.

Also win­less be­fore the clash, Ar­gentina got the bet­ter of the scrappy home side early to lead 13-10 at half­time af­ter dom­i­nat­ing ter­ri­tory and pos­ses­sion.

The Wal­la­bies looked more poised af­ter the break and hit the front in the 49th minute with prop Sekope Kepu rum­bling across the line.

They never looked back from there with Fo­lau, half­back Will Ge­nia, his re­place­ment Nick

Phipps and rookie hooker Jor­dan Ue­lese shar­ing the five-point­ers.

Af­ter ex­chang­ing early penalty kicks, the Pu­mas took the lead in the 23rd minute half­back when Martin Lan­dajo spun out of the ruck to dive over.

Fo­lau’s first came af­ter the Wal­la­bies moved the ball quickly from one side of the field to an­other be­fore Bernard Fo­ley found his man on the fly.

Aus­tralia travel to South Africa to take on the Spring­boks in Bloem­fontein in their next en­counter in a fort­night.

MARTY MELVILLE/PHOTOSPORT

Caleb Clarke scored a cru­cial try for Auck­land early in the sec­ond half.

Is­rael Fo­lau dives to score his sec­ond try dur­ing the Wal­la­bies’ win.

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