Auckland down Harbour for playoffs
Sun, 07 Oct 2012 7:15p.m.
The national provincial semi-finalists have been confirmed after Auckland beat a hapless North Harbour 36-16 in Albany on Sunday.
The `Battle of the Bridge' produced a predictable outcome as Auckland booked their Premiership division playoff berth with a bonus point win while North Harbour remain winless in the second tier Championship division.
A fourth straight victory sees Auckland join leaders Wellington, Taranaki and defending champions Canterbury as guaranteed Premiership semi-finalists with one round of matches still to play next week.
Fifth-placed Waikato can't crack the top four, regardless the result of their Ranfurly Shield defence against Hawke's Bay on Saturday.
Auckland always looked like notching their 28th win in the 35-match history between these cross-city rivals.
They packed a stronger scrum and boasted the more incisive players out wide in scoring five tries to one.
North Harbour, who were competitive in going down to Wellington last week, led 10-7 when hooker James Parson bustled over. They trailed by just a point after half an hour courtesy of more points via the boot of first five-eighth Codey Rei but couldn't match the Auckland speed and precision from then on as they crashed to a ninth successive loss.
Auckland's first half tries came via three of their best players - fullback Charles Piutau, prop Angus Ta'avao and first five-eighth Gareth Anscombe, who compiled 16 points to surge past 150 for the season.
Captain Daniel Braid and winger Dave Thomas crossed in the second half for the victors.
Auckland also welcomed back veteran lock Ali Williams from another lengthy injury break. The 75-Test veteran complete 58 minutes in solid fashion to begin his campaign for selection on the All Blacks' season-ending tour to Europe.
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8/10/2012 6:41:35 a.m.
So, 58 minutes (after how long this time?)makes Ali Williams an All Black contender huh?
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