This week sees the final regular season rounds of the Mitre 10 Cup take place and the first game was a Ranfurly Shield clash between holders Taranaki and Manawatu.
There were plenty of All Blacks on display during this game including Waisake Naholo, Charlie Ngatai and Ngani Laumape.
Taranaki ran out convincing 46-25 winners over Manawatu which seals top spot and home semi-final for the playoffs which are to take place next week. Naholo scored two tries for Taranaki during the game, both in the first half which surely puts him in contention for the third Bledisloe Cup clash against the Wallabies in Brisbane in less than two weeks time.
It was a tight affair, for the most part, Taranaki were only 8-6 up after the opening quarter before pulling ahead of their opponents to lead 27-6 at halftime. However, this was largely down to the sin-binning of Manawatu prop Michael Ala’latoa for a deliberate foul.
Manawatu did make a comeback in the second half but it was this glorious try from Kylem O’Donnell with just five minutes remaining which pushed the result beyond doubt for the home side.
Substitute Adrian Wyrill made a blistering break through midfield and the flanker put in a deft grubber kick into the corner for O’Donnell to latch on to. The ball bounced awkwardly for O’Donnell who did excellently to touch down despite the height of the ball and the attention of Jamie Booth.