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The Air NZ Cup NPC Week Eight

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Contributor:
Scott Newman
Scott Newman

The Ranfurly Shield appears to be quite safe in Canterbury’s hands & with the All Blacks set to return to the competition it really looks like it’s not going anywhere. Northland is the latest challenger then Manawatu & Southland remain. Southland may fancy their chance unless the All Blacks are involved. The All Blacks swept the Aussies to finish second in the Tri-Nations. Here is a look at the NPC First Division Rugby week that was. 

Counties Manukau vs. Southland – Southland won 14 - 6

The Stags are making it a habit to win the big games away to then have the comforts of home at Rugby Park. Southland made a hard job in attacking the Counties Manukau line. A lot can be said of the attitude of the Steelers mid-way through the competition staring at relegation. They are playing better. This was a game that Counties competed in for 80 mins not letting Southland dictate terms. Robbie Robinson helped run that respectful Stags backline well again. Counties face a Harbour team that is not scoring tries and will try to outscore them outright.  Southland play the (who will turn up this week?) Lions in windy Wellington.

Player of the game – Pehi Te Whare (Southland) held on to win in a gutsy away game.

Bay of Plenty vs. Tasman – Bay of Plenty won 24 - 13

There were no guarantees that the Bay was going to have a walk in the park against the impressive Makos. For most of the match it was up to the referee what was going to happen. I think I counted three yellow cards with a lot more than 18 penalties. Apart from the rough and tumble this game had a lot of good highlights from each teams backs. The Bay certainly is putting their hands up as an unlikely favourite for semi-finals. Tasman is playing well but it has to be said that their discipline might be letting them down a bit too much. The Steamers play the stumbling Otago team at Carisbrook (this maybe a close game?) Tasman gets to play the returning All Blacks of Kaino, Rokocoko, Toeava & Afoa. Damn!?

Player of the game – Mike Delany (Bay of Plenty) is the form player of the competition thus far.

Canterbury vs. Taranaki – Canterbury won Ranfurly Shield won 29 - 17

The Shield is always a hotly contested treasure which can be as satisfying as winning the entire competition to some unions. Taranaki have been playing for the shield for a long time and get full marks for trying. Canterbury are freaks they ran in some clinical tries to defend the log o’ wood soundly. All the Veterans turned up in this game with a memorable highlight being Stephen Brett chasing down speedster Shayne Austin in what looked to be a runaway try to give the ‘naki a sniff. Not meant to be. The Shield is on the line again this week with Northland vying for the prize. The ‘naki have home advantage against the soon to be All Black boosted Mooloo side.

Player of the game – Sean Maitland (Canterbury) scored some freaky tries to close out the ‘naki.

Waikato vs. Wellington – Waikato won 23 - 18

Both of these sides have been struggling for consistency so this was to show out in the game. Wellington failed to score a try but kept in it. Where Waikato were not prepared to lose at Waikato Stadium in front of the faithful. The Mooloo forward did the hard work to give plenty of ball out in the first half. Wellington pushed the mark in the second half with young Kirkpatrick’s boot keeping them in the contest. This game may be the turning point for both of these teams. The All Blacks are sure to boost their chances from here. Waikato plays a tricky Taranaki side looking to bounce back after the failed shield attempt. Wellington takes one of the form teams (Southland) at home what will happen here?

Player of the game – Latu Talakai (Waikato) inspires to help get the Mooloo back on track.

Auckland vs. North Harbour – North Harbour won 16 - 14

This is not good for Auckland Blues rugby. Both teams looked hopeless at times especially with the aimless kicking and lack of penetration or finishing. A try a piece. Harbour produced their best team try of the season. (Not many to review) Auckland who should not have beaten Manawatu last week again failed to close out the game (much to my relief and delight) With Harbour celebrating proudly as this got the 6 game losing streak snapped against a familiar friend. Won’t go down in history as a big battle of the bridge rivalry spectacle. But Harbour will take these much needed points. Auckland plays the enterprising Makos next. Harbour need to score tries to see off the Steelers who are coming to town.

Player of the game – Rudi Wulf (North Harbour) rewarded for constant effort to assist in the win.

Hawke’s Bay vs. Otago – Hawke’s Bay won 32 - 10

Hawke’s Bay humiliated Otago in this showing by blasting them away with tries all over the park. The bonus point win has given the Magpies an enormous boost in getting points when they can looking likely for a top eight berth for the third straight year. They have looked good and have full enthusiasm in each game. Otago will be pleased to have all of the forwards available with Donnelly (who made a great All Blacks debut) & Thomson returning shortly. Otago started ex-Warrior Mike Witt for this match in hopes of fluid running rugby. In a game where taking your opportunities was vital. Hawke’s Bay is a team that takes them. The Magpies play a stubborn Turbos side looking for form. Otago host the Bay of Plenty and will be putting everything into what could be their season defining game.

Player of the game – Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay) is one of many consistent performers for this good Bay team.

Manawatu vs. Northland – Northland won 25 - 18

The Taniwha are well deserved winners of this match against a Turbos side who are by no means easy beats. They used the wild wind well at FMG Stadium, Palmerston North. The Cambridge Blue scored three tries to none to take four competition points with a strong showing of good attacking rugby and smart defense for most of the match. Sure, Isaac Thompson was well in the game with the kicking tee. Northland has been playing well offensively to be well rewarded. The Turbos play the dangerous Magpies next in what will be a lot of ball movement for 80 mins. The Taniwha play for the shield and are not at all favourites.... but the chance to play for the shield against the best team in the competition is exciting for them so have a go mate!

Player of the game – Jared Payne (Northland) had a big smile after this emphatic performance.

2009 Air New Zealand Cup Standings

 Team

Played

Win

Draw

Loss

For

Against

BP1

BP2

Points 

 Canterbury

8

6

0

2

230

138

3

2

29

 Southland

8

6

1

1

155

114

1

1

28

 Bay of Plenty

8

6

0

2

173

134

0

1

25

 Hawke's Bay

8

4

1

3

209

159

3

0

21

 Auckland

8

4

0

4

164

166

2

3

21

 Tasman

8

4

0

4

196

152

2

2

20

 Wellington

8

4

0

4

187

175

1

2

19

 Taranaki

8

4

1

3

157

163

0

0

18

 Waikato

8

4

0

4

157

187

1

0

17

 Manawatu

8

3

0

5

165

190

1

3

16

 Northland

8

3

1

4

150

189

0

1

15

 Otago

8

2

0

6

152

174

2

4

14

 North Harbour

8

2

0

6

137

182

0

4

12

 Counties Manukau

8

2

0

6

158

267

2

1

11

 

This Week:

Thursday 24th Sep, 7:35pm – Wellington vs. Southland

Friday 25th Sep, 7:35pm – Taranaki vs. Waikato

Friday 25th Sep, 7:35pm – North Harbour vs. Counties Manukau

Saturday 26th Sep, 2:35pm – Canterbury vs. Northland (Ranfurly Shield)

Saturday 26th Sep, 5:30pm – Hawke’s Bay vs. Manawatu

Saturday 26th Sep, 7:35pm – Otago vs. Bay of Plenty

Sunday 27th Sep, 2:35pm – Tasman vs. Auckland

 

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