Auckland punish Taranaki mistakes
September 7, 2013
Hadleigh Parkes scored early as Auckland made a dream start
© Getty Images
Auckland scored six tries in thumping bottom-of-the-table Taranaki in New Plymouth on Saturday, maintaining their undefeated run to claim top billing on the ITM Cup Premiership ladder with a game in hand over Wellington Lions and Canterbury.
Auckland made a dream start in their third game in seven days when captain Hadleigh Parkes crossed inside the opening minutes after an attacking Taranaki lineout went horribly wrong. Liaki Moli stole the throw, Angus Ta'avao made metres and Simon Hickey's raking downfield punt was picked up on a kind bounce by winger Vince Aso, who unloaded for Parkes to cross.
Taranaki hit back after 15 minutes, opting for the lineout after Luke Braid had been penalised for lazy running. Auckland's disorganised defence couldn't regroup, and Taranaki worked the ball quickly for James Broadhurst to crash over. Daniel Brookes added a conversion to his earlier penalty, and the home team led 10-7.
Auckland regained the lead 10 minutes later, when fullback Lolagi Visinia dived over from a quick tap, and they added a third try eight minutes from half-time when Hickey's skip pass created plenty of room for Aso to touch down out wide.
Taranaki struck back three minutes after the restart, when hooker Rhys Marshall crashed across from a quick move off the front of an attacking lineout, but Auckland scored their fourth try barely four minutes later after yet another turnover gifted them possession. Taranaki coughed up possession while hard on attack inside the Auckland 22, and the visitors produced quick ball to Malakai Fekitoa, who mesmerised the defence in a 60-metre run for the bonus-point try.
Auckland ran at will in the closing 20 minutes, with Visinia picking up his second try and Saleaula Silipa showing good anticipation in running away with an intercept try to extend the winning margin.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin