QBE North Harbour have made it 2 from 2 in 2018, and really look like a team starting to gel.
With the wind in the first half, Harbour plugged the Waikato corners well, and booming punts from Shaun Stevenson, Bryn Gatland and Matt Duffie pegged the hosts back into their own 22 for most of the first stanza. There was the inevitable 'feeling out' period where both teams probed for cracks in each others defenses, but a Harbour lineout 12 out from the Waikato line turned into a 10m drive with James Parsons burrowing his way through the middle of the maul, and quick recycled ball sent Tevita Li over on the left wing blind side for the first try of the day. The conversion sailed right from Gatland and Harbour led 5-0 after 21 minutes.
An indiscretion from ex-Harbour man Jordan Manihera allowed Gatland his first points of the day through a penalty, but Manihera made up for it with a try resulting from a crack in the Harbour defense, and the ensuing successful conversion meant at halftime, Waikato had narrowed the score to 8-7 as they turned with the wind.
The second half started well for the hosts with good use of the wind presenting plenty of attacking opportunities, and Harbours defense held until the hosts scored 2 x quick tries to O'Donnell and Tupaea following good sweeping ball recycling, and a good midfield break respectively, shooting the hosts out to a 21-8 lead after 61 minutes.
It was then that the Harbour regained their composure and showed mental strength to get back into the game through a scrum based penalty try, Tevita Li's second after sweeping left and right play, and Murphy Taramai collecting another try to his Harbour collection and with Gatland adding the extras, Harbour scored 21 points in 9 minutes to regain the lead 29-21 with 9 minutes to play.
Waikato scored in the final minute of the game to pick up a 2 x bonus points (4 x tries and a loss less that 7 points) but it was Harbour taking the chocolates, to record our 2nd win of the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup.
Next game is home to Tasman at QBE Stadium, Saturday Sept 1, 7:35pm kickoff.
HARBOUR 29 (Tevita Li (2), Murphy Taramai, penalty tries, Bryn Gatland 3c p)
WAIKATO 28 (Jordan Manihera, Declan O'Donnell, Quinn Tupaea, Tyler Campbell tries, Fletcher Smith 4c)
HT | 8-7 Harbour
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