Round Four of the Mitre 10 Cup was full of close encounters and exciting results, with two games decided by less than a try, two undefeated teams meeting at the top of the table and the Ranfurly Shield changing hands.
Here are a few of the highlights from the provincial action.
Patrick Tuipulotu’s Hat-Trick vs Tasman
Auckland lock Patrick Tuipulotu made a statement on his return to rugby.
In his first appearance since May, Tuipulotu put in an impressive 65-minute shift in the blue and white hoops, picking up a stunning hat-trick against the undefeated Tasman Mako.
The towering lock first crashed over from short range in the 27th minute, then scored his second just four minutes later after scooping up a Harry Plummer cross-field kick, shrugging off a pair of would-be defenders and cruising 45 metres to cross under the posts. The 25-year-old rounded off his performance by busting over again from close range to score a third try right before teams went to the sheds.
After All Black Brodie Retallick injured his shoulder against Argentina the next night, Tuipulotu was recalled into the national side.
Etene Nanai-Seturo’s Electric Feet
The impressive 19-year-old left Southland prop Chris Apoua grasping at air with a wicked left-footed step.
Commentator Ian Jones likened the step to that of former All Black Glen Osborne as Counties ran out winners 43-26.
Brad Weber Starts And Finishes Bay Stunner
Chiefs halfback Brad Weber was instrumental in Hawkes Bay’s one-point home victory over Bay of Plenty, a battle to earn the title of ‘the real Bay’.
Weber led a second-half charge as he picked up two tries in two minutes.
First crossing the line after an 8-9 from the back of a scrum and scampering 15 metres for a score, Weber struck once again when he put up a booming box kick for Jonah Lowe to chase.
Right winger Lowe regathered the ball and raced down the sideline, finding Weber in support to grab a brace.
Quick Hands Put Asafo Away
Barnstorming hooker Asafo Aumua is back to his best form with Wellington, finishing off a great team try in his side’s Round Four battle with North Harbour.
Quick hands from a mixture of forwards and backs saw the ball spread out to right wing and Hurricanes star Ben Lam. Lam dished to Aumua who had Shaun Stevenson to beat, and beat him he did as the All Black hooker trampled over the Harbour fullback to score.
Harbour Level The Score
Not to be outdone by Aumua’s efforts, the North Harbour backs linked to create one of the better tries this season.
Off a lineout just inside their own half, five-eighth Bryn Gatland dropped a perfect chip in for the aforementioned Stevenson to recover. The rangy fullback did so, spotted some space and toed a ball ahead for his winger Matt Duffie, who raced to the ball and planted it with little margin for error.
Ware Leaves Smith For Dead
While Taranaki had to hand over the Ranfurly Shield following their defeat against Waikato, one member of the home side still had something to smile about.
The Hamilton Boys’ High School product took advantage of some over-committed defenders and burst into a hole. Still with plenty of work to do, the 24-year-old hit Waikato five-eighth Fletcher Smith with a devastating in-out, leaving the defender clueless and with a pair of broken ankles.
MITRE 10 CUP RESULTS – ROUND FOUR
Waikato 43-31 Wellington
Canterbury 34-23 Manawatu
Otago 27-23 Northland
Auckland 36-10 Tasman
Southland 26-43 Counties Manukau
Hawke’s Bay 29-28 Bay of Plenty
Wellington 35-23 North Harbour
Taranaki 19-33 Waikato
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now