LATEST: The theory that there are only three teams in the NPC premeirship title race gained momentum yesterday afternoon after Auckland thumped Taranaki 51-15 at Yarrow Stadium.
Despite playing just four days ago, Auckland proved far too strong for an error-ridden Taranaki side which remains rooted to the bottom of the table. Auckland join Wellington and Canterbury as the only unbeaten teams after four rounds.
For Taranaki, they will just be glad to see the back of the powerful trio as now they focus on premiership survival.
Auckland looked like they had the game sewn up by halftime after they took a 21-10 lead into the break. Playing with a strong wind in the first half, Taranaki needed to restrict Auckland's scoring.
That plan lasted all of 83 seconds as Taranaki butchered an attacking lineout, let the ball bounce from a through kick and Auckland skipper Hadleigh Parkes collected a pass to score under the posts.
The next 20 minutes were dominated by the home side as they enjoyed the best periood of their season.
On the back of several good runs by captain Kane Barrett, Taranaki scored a try to lock James Broadhurst to go with a penalty by Daniel Brooks. However, thoughts of a decent lead at the interval were stopped in a 10 minute period when Auckland scored two quick tries to Vince Aso and Lolagi Visinia.The 21-10 lead was nothing short of what they deserved as they played some entertaining football, helped no end by Taranaki's weak defence at times. If that was not bad enough Taranaki's lineout was not functioning, putting pressure on the entire side.
Still, they could have got back into the game two minutes before halftime but Kurt Baker's try was rubed out by the television match official who rled a forward pass from Seta Tamanivalu.
A halftime rev up looked to have done Taranaki the world of good as they came out hissing with a nicely worked try to hooker Rhys Marshall. The comeback was short lived, however, as more poor defence saw Auckland centre Malakai Fekitoa run 60m to score.
Despite playing three games in a week, Auckland continued to dominate and were especially punishing on opposition mitakes of which there were plenty.As much as Taranaki tried they just kept gifting Auckland points through poor play. By the end there was one side playing with confidence and the other was Taranaki.
It's been a while since Taranaki conceded so many points at home and it showed the gulf in class between the two sides. AUCKLAND 51 (Lolagi Visinia 2, Hadleigh Parkes, Vince Aso, Malakai Fekito, Saleaula Silipa tries; Simon Hickey 3 cons, pen, Piri Weepu pen, 3 cons, Orene Ai'i pen) TARANAKI 15 (James Broadhurst, Rhys Marshall tries; Daniel Brooks con, pen). HT: 21-10
- © Fairfax NZ News
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