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The Air NZ Cup NPC Week Five

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Contributor:
Scott Newman
Scott Newman

The fifth round of the competition saw the Shield move from Wellington to Canterbury in emphatic style. Auckland won the first John Drake boot trophy. Three very close games by two point wins, An Otago & Waikato team finding some good form. The Wallabies didn’t do us any favours but have a chance to put the All Blacks in the mix with a small ask of beating the Springboks without letting them score 4 tries or within 7 points! (Bye Bye Tri-Nations Trophy!)

North Harbour vs. Southland – Southland won 24 - 22

Southland were very lucky to have claimed maximum points from this game however they showed their class in coming from behind and getting the job done by scoring tries. It was a team effort for the Stags who showed good support in the stands. They have played consistently over the early stages of this competition. Are a side to be worried about playing unless you have the confidence to finish. With Northland up next at home they will be looking for a repeat of determination from this effort they have put in thus far.
 
As for Harbour, Please just score some tries everything else is going alright. It is just the inability to cross the line that is costing these close losses. It looks like Harbour will be close with everyone this season, finding the try line will convert some of these games to wins. Harbour faces Taranaki who are playing a similar rugged game so it should be close again.
 
Player of the game – Pehi Te Whare (Southland) 50th club match with a solid defensive game.
 
Northland vs. Otago – Otago won 29 - 7
 
Otago played the best game of the season this far. Everything worked from set piece to finishing. All of the veterans lifted the side. This may have been the game where Otago could have beaten just about anyone in the championship. Consistency will be the biggest ask for the southern men from here on in to back up this performance this week against Auckland. Both have been hit and miss but if they play anything like last week they are a certain chance.
 
The Cambridge Blue lacked the Taniwha approach they had taken in previous games. They sure put a lot of attack on Otago early on but then were back pedalling majorly for the rest of the contest. Northland shows strike power out wide and with David Holwell coming out of retirement this will help with a two-punch Munro/Holwell combination. They are heading far south to play a fine form Southland team. Good luck at Rugby Park Blue.
 
Player of the game – Adam Thomson (Otago) earned a recall into the All Blacks training squad covering injured Kieran Read.
 
Hawke’s Bay vs. Tasman – Hawke’s Bay won 28 - 26
 
This game seemed to be destined to be close as both teams are playing good running rugby. The Magpies have the balanced team to trouble everyone if you don’t pressure them early and maintain a good defense. This game was end to end with a fine display of throwing caution to the wind and pinning the ears back style. Two tries each with a thrilling finish. The Bay play’s an ordinary Waikato side. They have a brilliant chance to keep their good record up against Waikato.
 
The Tasman Makos have been playing good rugby each week. It is through pure focus on creating tries or opportunities through running the ball in the attacking end of the field. Against Hawke’s Bay they failed to close the game out with 5 minutes left but can hold their heads high by keeping good place in the standings. (Second best points for on table) The good attack/defense will have to be maintained for the exciting Turbos in town.
 
Player of the game – Zac Guildford (Hawke’s Bay) heartbreaker who was there to support and finish from a brilliant Israel Dagg setup.
 
Counties Manukau vs. Waikato – Waikato won 30 - 8
 
Waikato better hope to play even better than how they dismantled the Counties Manukau side this week or else they will be at the bottom of the standings for a longer time. With all that possession/territory & dominance of time in the 22. How the heck did they not score a bonus point try? The All Blacks lifted the Mooloo by all accounts by Stephen Donald’s backline play especially. Hawke’s Bay come to town and will play some ball. Should be a great game.
 
The Steelers had a fabulous first 10 minutes. Then trying to piece anything especially in the second half was damn near impossible being camped in the 22 for gar too long. Kudos to the team for stopping Waikato scoring the fourth try as they defended/ counter attacked for a very long period. Wellington comes to Pukekohe next. Boy, will they be looking to smash the next team for losing the shield!
 
Player of the game – Callum Bruce (Waikato) booted Counties out of the contest during second half.
 
Manawatu vs. Taranaki – Taranaki won 12 - 10
 
Taranaki held on with a tight defense in a close one with the Turbos. Relying heavily on the goal kicking prowess of Willie Ripia. Brett Goodin slotted a drop goal also. The play from Scott Waldrom, Andrew Hore and Jason Eaton were very influential in the result providing the turn over’s to play in the right end of the field. A good win in front of a good crowd. North Harbour is up next and they will be targeted by applying a good attack from the forwards to provide the platform.
 
The Turbos sold out FMG stadium at Palmerston North only to come up just short against a resilient Taranaki side. Manawatu will be very proud of their defensive efforts in not letting Taranaki score a try. They were dangerous all game but could not build upon the solo try effort of Kurt Baker. Aaron Cruden almost stole the game on a penalty but it fell short. Manawatu get to play the confident Makos which will be an interesting meeting.
 
Player of the game – Willie Ripia (Taranaki) kept the game under control with a cool head.
 
Wellington vs. Canterbury (Ranfurly Shield Match) – Canterbury won the Shield 36 - 14
 
Canterbury had the shield match decided by half time as they mounted a lead that could only be overcome by a gargantuan effort. 26-0 at half time! Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn & Wyatt Crockett helped roast the Lions by putting in a dominating performance. The only thing Canterbury couldn’t do was score a fourth try but winning the Shield is a top priority to any side. Wellington had a night to forget for sure. Canterbury look to continue their prominence in the competition by taking a trip to the Bay of Plenty in hopes of winning an away game before a three game shield defence. If they are to lose a game in the next four they want it to be this one if any?
 
Wellington is better than this stumbling performance last Saturday night. Although saving face by scoring two quick tries is not good enough but impressive. This was typical of Wellington which is so uneven that it is not fair. One second they are in control then the next they are knocking on and having the advantage count from the away teams. Over 70 long minutes is what it took to break the Canterbury line. In any Shield game this is not going to win the game. They need to wipe the slate clean and go to Counties Manukau with an attitude to take 5 competition points and put it behind them. Take Pride.
 
Player of the game – Richie McCaw (Canterbury/All Blacks) playing number 8! Great game made the whole team lift.
 
Auckland vs. Bay of Plenty – Auckland won 29 - 14
 
Auckland was too good for the bay and took the game away from them early. Winning the John Drake boot was a very emotional ceremony with the late Drakey’s family in attendance to hand over the legendary boot. Joe Rokocoko was fed the ball in key moments to score two tries. The weather conditions were very poor initially so there were quite a lot of handling errors overall the play was good. Auckland now has the tough assignment of Otago at Carisbrook.
 
The Steamers were given their first loss of the season. They had full marks on trying in poor conditions. The All Blacks made their mark on this game and kept them at bay! (Pardon the pun)  They setup one good 90 meter try through Colin Bourke but it was all over by that stage. Mike Delany played a very good game again trying to keep them on the front foot. The A team had lost key games earlier and had no intention losing this important match at Eden Park for the first John Drake Boot. Canterbury is up next. Good Luck.
 
Player of the game – Joe Rokocoko (Auckland/All Blacks) “I want my All Blacks job secure please?”
 
2009 Air New Zealand Cup Standings
 Team
Played
Win
Draw
Loss
For
Against
BP1
BP2
Points 
 Canterbury
5
4
0
1
148
86
1
1
18
 Southland
5
4
0
1
107
81
1
1
18
 Bay of Plenty
5
4
0
1
118
85
0
0
16
 Manawatu
5
3
0
2
112
108
1
1
14
 Otago
5
2
0
3
108
84
2
3
13
 Wellington
5
3
0
2
91
104
0
1
13
 Auckland
5
2
0
3
105
112
2
2
12
 Tasman
5
2
0
3
126
104
1
2
11
 Hawke's Bay
5
2
1
2
121
102
1
0
11
 Taranaki
5
2
1
2
94
105
0
0
10
 Waikato
5
2
0
3
95
124
1
0
9
 Northland
5
2
0
3
89
119
0
1
9
 North Harbour
5
1
0
4
91
117
0
3
7
 Counties Manukau
5
1
0
4
96
170
1
1
6
 
 
This Week:
 
Thursday 3rd Sep, 7:35pm - Southland vs. Northland
Friday 4th Sep, 7:35pm - Counties Manukau vs. Wellington
Friday 4th Sep, 7:35pm - Taranaki vs. North Harbour
Saturday 5th Sep, 2:35pm - Tasman vs. Manawatu
Saturday 5th Sep, 5:30pm - Bay of Plenty vs. Canterbury
Saturday 5th Sep, 7:35pm - Waikato vs. Hawke’s Bay
Saturday 5th Sep, 10:05pm (NZ time) - WALLABIES vs. SPRINGBOKS
Sunday 6th Sep, 2:35pm - Otago vs. Auckland

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