Auckland, Tasman play out draw in the NPC

19:45, Aug 31 2014
Francis Saili
WHERE'S MY TEAM? Francis Saili looks to get a pass away as two Tasman defenders do their best to keep him in their grasp.

A Marty Banks penalty success with just six minutes remaining saw Auckland and Tasman battle to a 16-16 national provincial championship stalemate at Eden Park today.

Tasman's prolific No 10 then had the chance to secure victory with just two minutes on the clock but his lengthy attempt into the breeze just fell below the bar.

Auckland's No 10 Simon Hickey also missed his chance to snatch victory right on fulltime but he pushed his penalty attempt to the right of the posts.

Tasman were at least able to preserve their unbeaten record after leading 10-3 at halftime, but it was Auckland who applied much of the second half pressure.

Tasman survived a tense opening 10 minutes when they were forced to defend several Auckland set pieces right on their own line.

But it was Tasman who struck first, Auckland failing to defuse a perfectly-weighted Marty Banks grubber kick behind their own line, pressured flanker Steven Luatua miscuing his attempted clearance straight to hooker Quentin MacDonald for the simplest of tries and a 7-0 lead. A massive 54m penalty success by Banks just minutes later stretched Tasman's lead to 10-0 midway through the half.

With the breeze at their backs, Tasman gradually asserted more pressure as their forwards began to control possession inside Auckland's half. Auckland's defence proved equal to the challenge, the home team eventually working well into Tasman territory for No 10 Simon Hickey to land the easiest of penalties as Tasman took a 10-3 lead into halftime.

Tasman's set piece was again solid during the first half, although young Auckland lock William Lloyd impressed with some clean early lineout takes on debut.

Hickey narrowed the margin to just 10-6 with his second penalty success two minutes after the restart, negated soon afterwards by another Banks success.

Auckland began to show more intensity on attack, Hickey breaking clear from a stolen lineout - despite an apparent knock on - requiring some excellent defence by Tasman to protect their line.

A well-executed Tasman lineout and a superb Banks clearance eventually enabled them to relieve an intense period of pressure. But Auckland eventually seized their opportunity, George Moala Junior Poluleuligaga and Jack Whetton making excellent ground down the left flank for Luatua to eventually cross in the corner. Hickey's excellent conversion levelled the scores at 13-all.

The momentum continued to go in Auckland's favour, Hickey giving the home team their first lead of the match at 16-13 after 65 minutes with his third penalty success.

Banks levelled the scores with his third penalty success with four minutes to go, sending the match into its dramatic final moments.

Auckland 16 (Steven Luatua try, Simon Hickey 3 pens, con) Tasman 16 (Quentin MacDonald try, Marty Banks 2 pens, con) Ht 3-10 


Fairfax Media