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Auckland overcome courageous Northland

Auckland bounced back from a first round thumping at the hands of Canterbury to secure a bonus point win over Northland at Eden Park.

Played in horrific conditions at Eden Park, Auckland had to work hard to overcome an injury hit Northland side to run away with a 37-15 victory. 

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Northland had first use of the strong wind in the first half but failed to capitilise as Auckland displayed superior ball handling in the wet and dominated the set piece to take a 15-8 lead at halftime.

The loss of inspirational loose forward Dan Pryor in the 25th minute was a dagger blow to Northland’s hopes and by the end of the half they had used up all of their forward replacements.

Despite the horror attrition rate, and turning around into a strong wind, Northland never stopped trying in the second half.

With classy first five-eighth Simon Hickey ensuring Auckland had the tactical advantage in the second half, their forward pack displayed great patience to grind Northland down and stretch the lead to 30-8 through a quick double to veteran flanker Steven Luatua.



With 20 minutes to go, the score could have blown out for Northland but the tireless Jack Ram and impressive first five-eighth Peter Breen kept coming at Auckland. A try to electric wing Jone Macilai resulted from a patient build up to give Northland a glimmer with the score at 30-15.

The final say was had by Auckland though when Vince Aso showed great pace to dive on a chip kick and make it 37-15.

After last week’s loss to Canterbury, Auckland wanted nothing less than a bonus point win against the perennial Championship strugglers while Northland showed enough to suggest they will be no push over in 2016.

Auckland first five-eighth Simon Hickey said: “We had to bounce back from last week. We were disappointed with the way we played against Canterbury and it was great to show a lot of character tonight.”

SCORERS:
Auckland 37 (Pryor Collier, Kurt Eklund, Steven Luatua 2, Vince Aso tries, Simon Hickey 3 con, 2 pen) Northland 15 (Josh Larsen, Jone Macilai tries, Peter Breen con, pen)
HT: 15-8