OCCASIONALLY, I am reminded why I love our great game so much, it's unpredictability.
I was reminded of that today, when, in an absolute boil over, at Auckland's Cornwall Park, fourth placed Foundation Cup side, First National Northland, took out their game against the previously unbeaten Auckland Crowns. An unbelievable victory with the final score 24/22 to the Northerners.
The game began on a fairly even footing with two quick unconverted tries to both teams.The Auckland side after the first ten minutes began to claim some ascendancy, scoring three more tries before the break, with the number 11 second rower claiming two of them.
The hooter had gone at 18/4 to the Crowns and it appeared as if they had it in the bag and would simply go through the motions in the second half to make an appearance in the Grand Final at Ericcson Stadium next week.
Unfortunately that is exactly what they did - go through the motions. Early in the half, the Crowns number 11 got his hat-trick - 22/4 and it's in the bag. Wrong, the Crowns reckoned without the hunger and "refuse to lie down" attitude of their Northern neighbours. First National Northland scored three successive tries to claw it back to 22/18. About 5 minutes left on the clock and the Crowns had a try disallowed. A dead set try that the bloke with the flag said was knocked on - it wasn't, but that's the breaks. Seconds left on the clock and Northland score under the sticks, the conversion floats over and that'sthe ball game.
Well done Northland and good luck in the final next week.
The Kiwi Cup game at Cornwall was the local derby between the undefeated Auckland Crowns and fourth placed Auckland Sea Lions. In their match up in the rounds, the Crowns had beaten the Sea Lions by a 20 point margin and today was not going to be any easier on the Sea Lions. Scott Jones, Crowns second rower, opened with a penalty goal and it was game on. The lead changed five times in the first half, with the Crowns taking control, only in the last 10 minutes. In one of those little quirks, Crowns full-back, James Nathan, snapped a field goal to take the score at the break to 27/12.
The Crowns were on top, but you could not write off the Sea Lions. They had tired in the last 10 minutes but the break would do them good.
Sadly, the break didn't actually did not do them a lot of good at all. They managed to score one converted try in the second dig while the Crowns managed another four. The half was not without excitement, with Crowns players, Nui Talau and Frank Paul Nuuausala spending time in the bin, but at the end of the day the Auckland Crowns were too strong and skillful for the South Auckland team. The Crowns earned their spot in the final at Ericcson by winning 45/18.
In other semi results, the Auckland Sea lions beat Wellington, in the Foundation Cup, 26/14 and
Canterbury beat Wellington in the Kiwi Cup 24/22.
We are now set for the Grand Finals at Ericcson Stadium week. The Foundation Cup features First National Northland and the Auckland Sea Lions and the Kiwi Cup will be fought out by the undefeated Auckland Crowns and Canterbury.
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