NPC : Spencer orchestrates Auckland demolition of Otago
October 5, 2002
Auckland may have inflicted irreparable damage on Otgao's NPC season by hammering them 50-26 at Eden Park on Saturday afternoon. The southerners now have the daunting task of beating Canterbury next week, and in the process claiming the Ranfurly Shield for the first time since 1957, if they are to reach the semi finals.
If there had previously been any doubt about Carlos Spencer re-claiming an All Black touring spot, then he surely laid them to rest here. He was the man who tormented the Otago defence and create the openings and opportunities for those around him. The four-try bonus point was secured by the end of the first quarter, the victory assured as the Aucklanders led 31-11 at half time.
All Black winger Doug Howlett was the main beneficiary with a hat trick of tries, but Daniel Braid, Xavier Rush, Keven Mealamu, Sam Tuitupou and Brent Ward also got on the scoresheet to emphasise the strength in depth that coaches Wayne Pivac and Grant Fox, ably assisted by the wily Graham Henry, are developing in this current Auckland squad.
For Otago, previously unbeaten in their last five matches, Aisea Tuilevu was again their most potent threat, with a couple of tries , and 2002 All Black debutant flanker Sam Harding also added a third try. But it was never going to be enough and the Eden Park hoodoo remains - Otago have not won there in the NPC since 1976.
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage