Northland keep quarter-final hopes alive
September 28, 2008
Rene Ranger grabbed a brace of tries for Northland
© Getty Images
Northland notched their second Air NZ Cup rugby win in as many weeks with a 45-24 victory over wooden spooners Manawatu at Whangarei today.
The win moves Northland into ninth place on the table, and leaves them with an outside chance to make the quarterfinals providing they beat sixth-placed Auckland in Auckland next Sunday.
Northland celebrated Friday's news of their Air NZ Cup reprieve with a six-try win, running in three tries in each half and looking always to have Manawatu's measure.
The New Zealand Rugby Union Board has said that Northland and Tasman -- last month earmarked for demotion to the Heartland championship next year -- will remain in the 14-team competition for at least two more years.
At Okara Park today, both teams picked up a bonus point in a match that featured a plethora of tries and showcased plenty of free running as well as well as plenty of errors. Ahead 24-7 at the break, with tries to hooker Francis Smith, lock Dan Goodwin and halfback Brenton Helleur, Northland looked comfortable, controlling play at the breakdown and making the most of some ineffective Manawatu defence.
And although Manawatu lifted their game in the second spell as right wing Lote Raikabula picked up a brace of tries with some powerful running, Northland's lead was never seriously threatened.
David Holwell controlled play well for Northland from first five-eighth, landing all six conversions and adding a penalty for good measure while wingers Rene Ranger, with two tries, and Fetu'u Vainikolo crossed in the second half to secure victory.
Result of an Air NZ Cup rugby match at Whangarei today between Northland and Manawatu:-
Northland 45 (Rene Ranger 2, Francis Smith, Dan Goodwin, Brenton Helleur, Fetu Vainikolo tries; David Holwell pen, 6 con) Manawatu (Lote Raikabula 2, Hamish Gosling, Johnny Leota tries; Isaac Thompson con, Andre Taylor con) 24.
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