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The Air NZ Cup NPC Week Six

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Scott Newman
Scott Newman

Last week the All Blacks gave their helping hands to provincial teams to help the standings out. It has been a very close start that even Harbour & Counties are not out of the picture yet. The Aussies put on a brave & determined show to beat the Springboks convincingly 21 – 6. This has opened the door slightly for a flash couple of weeks ahead for the All Blacks playing at Hamilton & Wellington for the Tri-Nations Trophy.

Southland vs. Northland – drawn 15 - 15

The Stags have had no trouble conjuring up tries against teams with stingy defense. They play the ball wide using the width very well. Running good lines and playing with good support for ball retention. The problem is kicking the goals over the posts. They have been missing young Robbie Robinson. (Perhaps James Wilson) Aside from not kicking the goal to earn two more competition points the Southern men top the table. They meet the other top side, the consistent BOP.
 
Northland shows heart against every team. With the return of David Holwell this move helps this union get right on track as he has the skills to build a platform to win games. Lachie Munro is playing very well too in helping the ball travel far from a good boot or pass out to the key playmakers in the Northland backs where there strength lies. They played very well away in this game and will continue to meddle with other provinces. Counties are up next. They must not play a similar game to the Steelers or it will be anyone’s game.
 
Player of the game – Jared Payne (Northland) almost guided his side to a win at Rugby Park.
 
Counties Manukau vs. Wellington – Wellington won 62 - 19
 
The Steelers team are suffering from injuries. They also had to face a very angry Wellington side which did not help their cause. To Counties credit, they did manage to score three tries from enterprising play. They have ability to score when they throw the ball around. (That is their game) They will play Northland now in hopes of getting off the bottom of the table. They are a chance when they get Lelia Masaga and co. into space.
 
The Wellington Lions were hurt by giving the Shield to Canterbury without firing a shot. They made no mistake posting the largest score of the competition thus far against the hapless Steelers. Tries were a plenty with 9 being scored by Wellington to Counties 3. If this is a sign of what Wellington intend to do each week now then the shield drama has awoken the sleeping Lion. (Or will we see the classic which Wellington shows up?) The capital takes on the thin offense of Taranaki next.
 
Player of the game – Hosea Gear (Wellington) four tries!!! (Oh My!)
 
Taranaki vs. North Harbour – Taranaki won 17 - 13
 
Taranaki have been battling away each week now in having issues scoring tries. They seem to be not executing as well as they would like. The rough and rugged forward play is working for them and this is how they beat Harbour. A good defense and being able to kick their goals. The ‘naki maybe close with most other teams this season. They do not have any bonus points to show. You get the feeling they are either going to build from here steadily or stay the same. They have good backs and a good balance in attack/defense. Wellington are next, they would love to get a win over the super 14 brothers.
 
Harbour is struggling to close out games. They are keeping it close but make scoring a try a big occasion. (Thanks Chris Smylie) The rest of the style of play is working fine just not generating the tries that every other union are tapping into. Going up in 1’s is not quite as good as 4’s. North Harbour has led over every team played except Otago. Something has to change in order to get the extra points to win the game. Kudos to Tony Penn for acknowledging how Harbour is going, I respect that. Hawke’s Bay is next at home. Ungh!
 
Player of the game – Jack Cameron (Taranaki) didn’t miss out kicking Taranaki to glory.
 
Tasman vs. Manawatu – Tasman won 34 - 15
 
Tasman doesn’t have the second best points for for nothing. They pride themselves in attacking the opposition after they do the business in their end defending the line. They are playing positive rugby. They played a good game putting the Turbos under relentless pressure the whole game earning 5 points scoring 5 tries. They were very impressive on attack. Now they will need to put on a good display to beat Waikato who are in town next. The Makos are a chance.
 
Manawatu played their worst game of the season in this one. They did not really get it together long enough to trouble the Makos. Too many mistakes which led to letting in soft tries. The Turbos have been pretty good in attacking sides and doing enough to get close to closing out games. They need to keep their defense going as they are very capable with the ball in hand. Aaron Cruden is such a good player and will be a Super 14 player next year. The Turbos head to the city of sails next to visit the Garden of Eden. Not an easy place to get it back together again.
 
Player of the game – Kahn Fotuali’i (Tasman) played a very good game in distribution to his backs.
 
Bay of Plenty vs. Canterbury – Bay of Plenty won 19 - 17
 
The Bay has come to play. Picking up a win against the Canterbury side in Tauranga in front of a large crowd was well deserved. The Bay has been getting solid contributions in a team effort. Colin Bourke has been a great choice in leading this team. They withstood a lot of pressure in warding off the red and black army. Some uncharacteristic mistakes from the often clinical Cantabs cost the game. They will be hard to beat for any team. Southland line up to take a shot at the Bay next.
 
Canterbury is seen to be trying too hard at times. They have all of the game breakers, look after their ball well & spread it beautifully. They have had the all blacks come through the team and help out. (Without disruption) Having Andy Ellis & Corey Flynn in the side has made them solid. They should have beaten the Bay in this game and were out passioned by a more confident side. They were allowed to lose one game as the next three games are Shield defences starting with Otago.
 
Player of the game – Mike Delany (Bay of Plenty) top point scorer in the NPC, solid & reliable.
 
Waikato vs. Hawke’s Bay – Waikato won 30 - 22
 
The Mooloo men ended the horrible run of losses they had been having against Hawke’s Bay with a good win. They shell shocked the Magpies by scoring tries early to take control of the match. The crowd at Waikato Stadium enjoyed the construction of dominance as it is the Waikato of old. Quick ball was on order all night. Sure the Bay fought back but the Waikato men held firm. The Mooloo take on the Makos next in what will be a good game.
 
The Magpies played a spirited game against Waikato but not with the spunk, razzle and dazzle of previous efforts. They scored three tries and kept looking to score through running the ball playing catch up rugby. Too many mistakes came under fire from the tight 5 who bullied the Hawke’s Bay forwards. The game was played without the steady boot of Matt Berquist. Hawke’s Bay line up Harbour next and will be keen for a rare win up north.
 
Player of the game – Callum Bruce (Waikato) took control of this match to ensure victory.
 
Otago vs. Auckland – Auckland won 22 - 18
 
Auckland has been given a boost from the returning All Blacks to get their game back on form. It has not been easy for them as they have been looking very difficult at times. Taniela Moa has been playing well for 80% of the time there is still errors in his game but what he is good at doing is moving the backs forward. The Auckland tight 5 got it together against perhaps one of the best forwards pack of the competition. A tough & gutsy win. The Turbos present the next challenge.
 
Otago have been playing very well lately but have not being converting the good work into points. What they have been managing to do is attack from the forwards and backs going forward running the ball well. Thanks to a very mobile & able loose trio. The Otago backs had a good share of the ball in this arm wrestle of a match. Michael Witt made his anticipated entrance into the Blue and Gold jumper showing good form. Ryan Shortland has been playing very well too. The Otago side needs patience, things are working out for them. Consistency will be the key to turn these close showings to wins. They play for the shield for the second time this season next. This time Canterbury.
 
Player of the game – Benson Stanley (Auckland) playing well in the right end of the field.
 
2009 Air New Zealand Cup Standings
 
 

Team

Played
Win
Draw
Loss
For
Against
BP1
BP2
Points 
Bay of Plenty
6
5
0
1
137
102
0
0
20
Southland
6
4
1
1
122
96
1
1
20
Canterbury
6
4
0
2
165
105
1
2
19
Wellington
6
4
0
2
153
123
1
1
18
Tasman
6
3
0
3
160
119
2
2
16
Auckland
6
3
0
3
127
130
2
2
16
Otago
6
2
0
4
126
106
2
4
14
Taranaki
6
3
1
2
111
118
0
0
14
Manawatu
6
3
0
3
127
142
1
1
14
Waikato
6
3
0
3
125
146
1
0
13
Hawke's Bay
6
2
1
3
143
132
1
0
11
Northland
6
2
1
3
104
134
0
1
11
North Harbour
6
1
0
5
104
134
0
4
8
Counties Manukau
6
1
0
5
115
232
1
1
6
 
 
This Week:
 
Thursday 10th Sep, 7:35pm – Northland vs. Counties Manukau
Thursday 10th Sep, 7:35pm - Taranaki vs. Wellington
Friday 11th Sep, 7:35pm - Southland vs. Bay of Plenty
Friday 11th Sep, 7:35pm - Tasman vs. Waikato
Saturday 12th Sep, 2:35pm – North Harbour vs. Hawke’s Bay
Saturday 12th Sep, 4:35pm - Canterbury vs. Otago (Ranfurly Shield)
Saturday 12th Sep, 7:35pm – ALL BLACKS vs. SPRINGBOKS
Sunday 13th Sep, 2:35pm – Auckland vs. Manawatu

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