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Auckland Squad



koonwaiyou is steppin up a notch!!!

see his try?..mean sidestep an speed..supposely up there with anesi as the fastest in nz rugby..hahahaha...

no one told rupeni that in that crusaders match lol...but yeh tony koonwaiyou is on the steady improve and wit mills goin to waikato we shud keep him in auckland blues with ward and brian williams son!!!

our super14 problems will be solved...

but to find a way to dispose of lavea....another challenge!

i say murder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111!111111


Brilliant Auckland silence doubters

By Gregor Paul

Auckland did just about enough last night to crawl back into the circle of trust. By beating Waikato 40-30 they showed that the gun they used to draw so casually last season to shoot off their own foot has been misplaced.

Given it was their fifth straight win, coach Pat Lam may feel his side had already done enough in earlier rounds to convince the doubters that the lobotomised football of last season was all just an aberration.

But Auckland needed to perform and beat a side of Waikato's standing to really convince the doubters that they will no longer implode when they are put under constant pressure. They got their result and, for the most part, delivered the performance. That's not to say they were clinical and ruthless.

In the last 10 minutes of the first half they managed to get in behind Waikato's defence four times. Yet they only managed to finish once - and even then they made hard work of it when Tasesa Lavea strangely chose to chip ahead after making a sumptuous break up the middle.

A lucky bounce enabled Derren Witcombe to jink past Liam Messam.

It wouldn't be right, though, to dwell on negatives. Not only was it a pulsating game, Auckland delivered some gold-plated highlights.

Ben Atiga's try early in the second half was 40 seconds of instinctive rugby that few sides in the world could emulate.

The skill level was breathtaking in the way both forwards and backs offloaded out of the tackle.

The speed and athleticism of the support running was a feature, too.

The old school can harp on about tight forwards having no business running out in the open but seeing Brad Mika, Jerome Kaino and Kurtis Huia in full flight, as they so often were last night, remains one of the best spectacles in the game.

Lam would certainly see it that way as this was always his vision for Auckland.

It was his intention last season to get his side to use the natural flair that flows so freely through the veins of every player.

Where Auckland went wrong last season, however, was that they had no stable platform up front.

It wasn't so much in the set piece that they were flaky, it was their ball retention. Too often last season they would try and throw the impossible pass and force the game in the wrong areas of the field.

Now they arrive at the breakdown in numbers and protect the ball.

They get some momentum and some go-forward and then they look to go wide once they have created some space.

That's why they were so effective last night.

Lavea, who is slowly adding real polish to his game, had time to assess his options and usually it was pretty obvious what he should do.

More often than not the best ploy was to go wide where Auckland had runners to spare.

And when you give runners like Brent Ward, Ben Atiga and Isa Nacewa a few yards to work on, they will carve you up.

But it wasn't just the glory boys who were doing the damage.

Mika and Kaino both made a couple of memorable charges to show off their incredible speed and athleticism.

The consequence of that, however, was that they perhaps handed the set-piece edge to Waikato, whose front row probably just shaded the scrum battle, or at least they did in the first 55 minutes when they had the gargantuan Philemon Toleafoa at loosehead.

The youngster has come back from France with a huge reputation to uphold. He went some way towards justifying all the fuss last night. He's probably still a few games short of full fitness but he did manage to give John Afoa a torrid time - and also almost snap Brent Ward in half with an almighty tackle.

If he can manage a few more performances of last night's calibre don't be surprised if he is taken on the All Blacks' end-of-season tour.

It wouldn't be a surprise either to see Mika join him on the plane. The All Black selectors have three locking options and will be hoping a fourth emerges strongly in the final rounds of the NPC.

Mika is never going to dominate at the lineout but, given the all-action style being fashioned by the All Blacks, he would be right at home.

Auckland now must be strong favourites to go all the way and recapture the trophy that they won in 2004.

But they should leave all that crystal-ball gazing to others as getting too far ahead of themselves has seen them come unstuck in the past.

Auckland (T. Koonwaiyou, D. Witcombe 2, B. Atiga, S. Tuitupou tries; B. Ward 3 cons, 3 pens).

Waikato (S. Bates, L. Messam; S. Donald tries; S. Donald 3 cons, 3 pens).



WHAT A MEEANNNNNNN GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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