Auckland beat Manawatu in Palmerston North
Auckland barely had to draw breath to beat the Manawatu Turbos 35-7 in their NPC crossover rugby match at Palmerston North today.
It was a solid bounce back for Auckland after their embarrassing dumping by Canterbury the previous week.
The Aucklanders virtually got the job done in the first half when they cruised to a 23-0 lead.
The scoreline flattered Manawatu who had to somehow try to hang on against bigger opponents when the Turbos had two men in the sinbin, one in each half. Auckland are the one team the Turbos haven't toppled since the competition was revamped in 2006.
The Turbos usually fire at home but this was one of their most lethargic displays at their Boneyard in a few seasons. They did get one consolation try, to prop Chris Eves after the clock had ticked over 80 minutes to avoid an embarrassing shutout.
Auckland though were untroubled to score their requisite four tries, two in each half. Auckland did meander through the second half and it took 71 minutes for centre Francis Saili to sail through for the third try and giant No 8 Peter Saili got one two minutes later after a Manawatu passing mess.
Peter Saili was a handful for the small Manawatu but it was a game in which few individuals starred.The flat Turbos did well to hold Auckland to 20-0 at halftime with first five-eighth Gareth Anscombe scoring a soft try after only five minutes.
That blew out to 20-0 after 14 minutes and it seemed as if Auckland would do to Manawatu what Canterbury did to them.
Auckland seldom bothered to use their backs until they were within sight of the tryline. Other than that their giant halfback Junior Poluleuligaga hoisted bombs and invited his cohorts to chase them and wrap up the beleaguered Turbos.
Anscome brushed off a tackle to score under the posts and soon after from a tap penalty on the Manawatu line, wing George Moala went over in a tackle in the corner.
With referee Mike Fraser heavily penalising the defending team, namely Manawatu, it was all one way. The Turbos though weren't firing, failed to control the ball and were easily manhandled by the bigger Aucklanders. Manawatu passed up shots at goal but couldn't get across the Auckland line.
It didn't help when they lost their halfback Papa Wharewera to what appeared to be a serious leg injury.
Scorers: Auckland 35 (Gareth Anscombe, George Moala, Francis Saili, Peter Saili, tries; Anscombe 2 con, 3 pen; Simon Hickey con) Manawatu 7 (Chris Eves try; Otere Black con) HT 20-0.
What did you make of this year's ITM Cup?