Auckland sit back, hope for home semifinal

DAVID LONG
Last updated 11:04 12/10/2012
Charles Piutau
Photosport
FUTURE ALL BLACK? Fullback Charles Piutau has had a fine ITM Cup for Auckland.

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Auckland coach Wayne Pivac says there is little to do but sit back and hope results go his way this weekend.

The 24-19 win over Otago last night has temporarily taken Auckland to the top of the NPC Premiership, but whether they get a home semifinal or not will come down to other results over the weekend.

Canterbury are expected to beat Bay of Plenty on Sunday, which will mean they take back the top spot, but the location of the other semifinal will be determined by the Wellington-Taranaki game, also on Sunday.

If Wellington win they'll finish second. If Taranaki win with a bonus point they get a home semi, but if they don't score four tries in a win Auckland will claim second.

"Obviously we've got the semifinal to look forward to and we'll sit back and see what happens in the Taranaki v Wellington game," Pivac said.

"There are a couple of scenarios there and it depends on Canterbury beating Bay of Plenty of course, so there is still a bit to happen over the weekend."

Auckland really needed to come away from Dunedin with five points last night, but it wasn't a great performance from the team, with only Dave Thomas and Charles Piutau scoring tries.

"It was frustrating from our point of view," said Pivac.

"We were very poor in the first half and conceded something like 11 turnovers and four penalties, so we were our own worst enemies in that department.

"In the second half our defence was a lot more solid and they didn't really threaten the line, so that was pleasing.

"But our errors and decision making with ball in hand let us down and we threw away any chance of a bonus point win.

"It was disappointing, but saying that, when you make that many errors in a game and don't play to your potential but still come away with a win is something to be happy about."

There were two controversial moments in last night's game. One was the decision not to award a try to Gareth Anscombe as the video evidence that Hayden Parker had forced one of his feet into touch was far from conclusive.

The other was the yellow card shown to Liaki Moli for tackling Parker without using his arms. In both cases Pivac was disappointed with the decisions.

"Unless you clearly see the foot on the line you can't say 'I think' or words to that effect, he said.

"The player believes his foot was up at all times and when I saw it at normal speed and it looked like his foot was up.

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"But they make those decisions, the one I was more annoyed about was the fantastic hit made by Liaki Moli and got 10 minutes in the sin bin for it, he clearly had arms in the tackle, so that was disappointing."

Auckland have over a week to wait before they play in one of the semifinals, but Pivac says that just as there are disadvantages with short turnarounds, there can also be issues will long gaps between games.

"I think you can have too much time off," he said.

"I know everyone has been complaining about short turnarounds but eight or nine days is a long time. I guess it's good if there are injuries and it gives the guys more time to recover.

"We are happy to be in the semis and we have to sit back and see who and where we're playing."

- Fairfax Media

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