Auckland record first win of season at Manawatu's expense

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James Mortimer     25 Aug 2014     Getty Images

With improved performances across the park, the Auckland team were determined on defence and showed glimpses of brilliance on attack.

Gareth Anscombe wasted no time in getting the score board ticking over as he crossed for a try inside the opening five minutes.

With the forwards running with intent, Auckland made easy metres up field. Anscombe showed some classy footwork to slice through the defence and dot down just next to the posts. He converted his own try for the 7 nil lead.

Anscombe knocked over a penalty on the ten minute mark to further the lead and then it was straight back on attack.

Ben Lam and Hadleigh Parkes combined on a searing break, Parkes stopped just short of the try line. Junior Poluleuligaga was quick in support, trying to dive over the try line but winning a five metre scrum.

Auckland were awarded a penalty from the scrum and Poluleuligaga took the quick tap, spinning the ball out to Moala who took three defenders with him over the try line. Anscombe converted to take the lead out to 17-0.

After a flying start from the visitors, Manawatu were working their way back into the game but attempts to find the try line were thwarted by a solid Auckland defence.

A mounting penalty count against the home team saw referee Mike Fraser go to his pocket and Hubert Buydens was sent to the sin bin. Anscombe converted the ensuing penalty for a 20-0 lead.

Francis Saili looked to capitalise on the man advantage immediately when he stole an intercept but a desperate covering tackle brought him down and the ball was lost in the tackle.

From there Manawatu worked the ball to the opposite end of the park, still looking for their first points of the match. The Auckland defence made sure that would not be the case and the score remained 20-0 at the half time break.

Auckland opened the second spell with another penalty, extending the lead to 23-0.

The second half was a messy affair, Auckland working hard and affecting a number of turn overs and penalties but all too often were guilty not valuing the possession they had.

It wasn’t until the closing ten minutes, when Manawatu were again reduced to 14 men, that Auckland were able to string some positive plays together.

Francis Saili showed his skill as he danced through the Manawatu defence on the way to the try line and just minutes later older brother, Peter, was rewarded for a solid game with a try of his own.

While the Auckland defence had been impressive all match, it couldn’t quite hold on as Manawatu powered over the try line in the 80th minute.

Auckland return home to prepare for their first home game next Sunday against the high-flying Tasman.

Auckland 35

Tries: Anscombe, Moala, Saili, Saili
Cons: Anscombe (2), Hickey
Pens: Anscombe (3)

Manawatu 7

Tries: Eves
Pens: Black