Auckland inflicts first loss on Taranaki
Wed, 19 Sep 2012 11:05p.m.
Taranaki's unbeaten record in the national provincial championship is over, after a 43-32 loss to a much-improved Auckland on Wednesday.
The young Aucklanders bounced back from a heavy loss to Bay of Plenty on Friday to score four tries and join Wellington and Taranaki in a share of first place in the premiership standings.
Taranaki made seven changes from the side which successfully defended the Ranfurly Shield against Canterbury but struggled to match the hosts at Eden Park and suffered their first loss in five games this season.
It took three late tries to bring some respectability to the scoreline after Auckland had led 43-13 with 15 minutes remaining.
Taranaki scored five tries to four but paid for a wayward goal kicking display while Auckland benefited from a nine-from-nine return - including eight from first five-eighth Gareth Anscombe, who kicked 20 points.
Auckland led 17-5 at halftime, helped by tries to impressive fullback Charles Piutau and halfback Alby Mathewson.
The third quarter was the decisive period as Anscombe's unerring boot and tries to flanker Steven Luatua and reserve lock Nathan Hughes pushed Auckland clear.
Taranaki's late tries went to first five-eighth Jack Cameron, halfback Jamison Gibson-Park and winger Jackson Ormond.
Earlier, bearded Taranaki lock Jason Eaton grabbed a tryscoring double after he found himself on the end of the chain to round off two flowing team movements.
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