North Taranaki Midweek

Disappoint­ing end to Brown’s season with Bulls



A game of two halves ended a 10-year career for Taranaki loose forward Mitch Brown on Saturday afternoon.

In his final match for the province before heading to Japan, Taranaki lost 38-24 to Auckland after leading 17-3 at halftime at a sodden Eden Park.

The match was a dead-rubber for Taranaki in the final round, but placings were on the line for Auckland, which now plays neighbours North Harbour in the quarter finals next week.

Speaking to Sky Sport after the match, Brown said he had some ‘‘great times’’ with Taranaki after his debut in the 2012 Ranfurly Shield match against King Country at TET Stadium.

‘‘Taking it [the competitio­n] out in 2014 and last year and a few Shield victories along the way,’’ Brown said about his highlights.

‘‘I’m stoked to be part of this franchise I grew up watching and loving, so [I’m] pretty proud.’’

During the match, Brown watched one of Taranaki’s best first half performanc­es from the bench as Taranaki searched for its first win against Auckland since 2017.

Stephen Perofeta, playing at first-five eight, set up the first try in attractive fashion which Daniel Rona scored.

Taranaki continued to penetrate the Auckland line with confidence. It didn’t help when Auckland lost key players Salesi Rayasi, Bryce Heem and Adrian Choat with injuries. More followed in the second spell.

Hooker Ricky Riccitelli scored from a driving maul before half time and Perofeta added two conversion­s and a penalty in the first half.

Auckland barely fired a shot apart from a penalty to Harry Plummer.

But it was the second half that was disappoint­ing for Bulls fans.

Auckland stormed back in the driving rain, including two tries to Terrell Peita and AJ Lam.

Kini Naholo scored Taranaki’s only second half try, which was also set up by Perofeta and midfielder Daniel Waite.

Auckland 38 (Terrell Peita 2, AJ Lam 2, Angus Ta’avao tries; Harry Plummer 4 con, pen; Simon Hickey con); Taranaki 24 (Daniel Rona, Ricky Riccitelli, Kini Naholo tries; Stephen Perofeta 3 con, pen)

Neil Barnes also made several second-half changes, which seemed to disrupt the flow for Taranaki.

Taranaki had a chance later in the game to score two tries, but with a wonky lineout throw and Jacob Ratumaitav­ukiKneepke­ns attempted a grubberkic­k inside the 22, the opportunit­ies went astray.

- This content has been brought to you by Sport News Taranaki.

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Mitchell Brown is about to head to Japan, ending a 10-year career in New Zealand for the Taranaki loose forward.
GETTY IMAGES Mitchell Brown is about to head to Japan, ending a 10-year career in New Zealand for the Taranaki loose forward.

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