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Auckland put to the sword by Hawke's Bay

Published: 4:37PM Saturday August 01, 2009 Source: NZPA

Hawke's Bay fully justified the faith of their supporters by convincingly beating Auckland 47-13 in an Air NZ Cup rugby match in Napier on Saturday.

Last year's losing semifinalists were well worth the scoreline, which represented an immediate setback for new Auckland coach Mark Anscombe, who has inherited a team coming off a lowly 11th placing in 2008.

Despite Hawke's Bay not beating Auckland since 1974, their fans had talked up the team's prospects and the players delivered to dominate at McLean Park, scoring five tries to one in the process.

They effectively sealed the result with their third try 16 minutes from fulltime when former Wellington No 8 Thomas Waldrom ran strongly on to a short ball from halfback Chris Eaton.

Hawke's Bay then nabbed a bonus point fourth try after a quick breakout by Eaton ended with prop Sona Taumalolo using his considerable strength to force the ball over the line after an arm wrestle.

The cream was added within seconds of the final hooter when wing Jason Kupa completed the tryscoring after Hawke's Bay turned over possession.

The home side had much the better of the opening 25 minutes, by which stage they led 13-3 following a long range try to left wing Zac Guildford and accurate goalkicking from first five-eighth Mathew Berquist, who ended the match with 22 points after landing nine from 12 attempts.

Guildford raced down the touchline from halfway after being freed following a midfield turnover by openside flanker Karl Lowe, before good passing from Waldrom and hooker Hika Elliott created space on the flank.

Having spent much of their time on tackling duty, Auckland slowly but surely battled their way back into the contest courtesy of first five-eighth Daniel Bowden, who contributed all their points from a try, two penalties and a conversion.

They drew level at 13-13 when Bowden converted his own try, which came when he loomed up on the shoulder of Winston Stanley after the centre broke through in midfield following a tapped penalty.

But Hawke's Bay had the last word in the first half when the energetic Lowe ran through some thin defence on the short side from a lineout close to the tryline.

Auckland's cause was not helped when captain Kurtis Haiu was forced from the field last in the first spell after taking a heavy knock to the head.

Two penalties from Berquist after the resumption stretched Hawke's Bay's advantage to 26-13 before Waldrom showed pace and strength in his short run to the line.