If there’s one thing worse than losing a local derby, it’s getting your rear end handed to you in one. On Sunday afternoon Auckland found that one out the hard way, going down in a record loss to neighbours North Harbour at QBE Stadium in Albany.
The home side ran in seven tries in one of the greatest performances in their history, consigning Auckland to yet another post match post mortem that have become so very familiar this year.
Harbour ran the ball freely and found gaps everywhere, most notably through an All Black midfield of George Moala and Malakai Fekitoa. They were led well by hooker James Parsons, who helped himself to a memorable 50 metre intercept try in the second half.
Blues wingers Tevita Li and Matt Duffie were both heavily involved, as was fullback Shaun Stevenson. Bryn Gatland kicked 22 points to inflate the scoreboard to the barely believable 57-10 conclusion.
Earlier in the day, Tasman were lucky to escape Hamilton with a 31-29 victory over Waikato.
The Makos were in the lead by 31-12 with 15 minutes to play before Waikato launched a dramatic comeback, through tries to Samisoni Taukei’aho, Zac Guildford and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
Kerr-Barlow’s effort was reminiscent of the All Blacks’ epic multi phase match winner against Ireland in 2013, going over a dozen rucks after the fulltime siren had sounded. That left Matt Lansdown with a chance to snatch a draw, but his conversion attempt sprayed wide.
The game featured some fantastic rugby from both sides, with one of the highlights being this try to loosehead prop Loni Uhila:
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 3, 2017
Saturday night featured another thriller, with Taranaki scoring on fulltime to deny Counties-Manukau. Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli crashed over for the winner, after All Black Waisake Naholo had scored two earlier tries.
Counties-Manukau failed to make the most of a strong breeze behind their backs in the first half, trailing 11-10 at the break. However the second half saw a much more composed showing from both sides as the matched each other try for try.
In the other Saturday games; Northland continued their excellent start to the season with a thumping 44-13 win over Southland, while Otago ran out 40-30 winners over Manawatu.