Hawke’s Bay celebrates an attempt by Brendon O’Connor. Foto / Photosport
Hawke’s Bay is a game closer to keeping the Ranfurly Shield locked up in Napier during the summer.
In the penultimate home game of the season, the Magpies rejected the challenge of the Manawatū Turbos, winning by 47 to 12 people.
Despite the final result, in the opening period of the game it seemed that everything was just a game of high scores, since neither side managed to establish any kind of ancestry.
Although both sides showed an intention to attack early on, their execution was insufficient – each giving the other many chances.
It was the visitors who broke the line in first place, with the second five-eighth James Tofa crossing the cross, in the 18th minute of play. The attempt may have offered a little hope for the struggling turbos, who had not held the shield since 1978, but this was soon eliminated by the hosts.
An attempt for Hawke’s Bay’s second shot by five to eighth Danny Toala five minutes later triggered a forgettable period for the Turbos, who suffered three more attempts in the interval. They were able to score another one themselves, but faced a 28-12 handicap at halftime.
Similarly to the first 40 minutes, neither team’s game was overly flattering, with handling errors and little discipline meant that there was little flow in the game, although Hawke’s Bay was getting the better of the exchanges when they managed to keep the ball in their hands. .
The Magpies finally broke the line again with 13 minutes left, when hooker Ash Dixon predictably crossed the back of a lineout and made two more attempts in the final seven minutes to push the scoreboard into a flattering 35-point buffer. .
Hawke’s Bay will face its last challenge of the season in two weeks, when Wellington arrives in the city, with Lions receiving only their second challenge since the defeat of Shield in 2009. The other was also against Hawke’s Bay, a 36-14 defeat in 2014 .
Earlier in the day, Canterbury was defeated by Bay of Plenty in an unusually poor performance, dropping 44-8. It was Bay of Plenty’s first victory over Canterbury since 2011 and took him off the Premiership ladder for a chance at a playoff spot.
For Canterbury, they now risk losing the playoffs by falling to fifth place and facing Premiership leaders Tasman and Auckland in two of the last three games.
A comeback in the second half of North Harbor surprised Auckland at the Battle of the Bridge, beating its rivals 23-22.
In a match between the top and bottom Premiership teams, league leader Auckland advanced with a 15 to 9 lead at halftime, with Bryn Gatland’s boot keeping Harbor within reach. They took the lead soon after, through a converted try, and increased to eight points with 16 minutes left.
Auckland hit back in the last five minutes, but Harbor managed to hold on in the final stages.
Hawke’s Bay 47 (Danny Toala, Devan Flanders, Ben Makene, Brendon O’Connor, Ash Dixon, Neria Formai, Isaiah Walker-Leawere attempts; Lincoln McClutchie 4 cons, Connor McLeod 2 cons) Heart 12 (James Tofa, Ben Wyness tries; Wyness con) HT: 28-12.
Bay of Plenty 44 (Chase Tiatia 2, penalty shot, Joe Webber, Kaleb Trask, Scott Curry tries; Trask 3 with, 2 pen) Canterbury 8 (Cullen Grace’s attempt; Fergus Burke’s pen) HT: 22-3.
North Harbor 23 (James Little, Luteru Tolai tries; Bryn Gatland 2 cons, 3 pens) Auckland 22 (AJ Lam, Tumua Manu, Akira John tries; Harry Plummer 2 against, pen) HT: 9-15