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Waikato beat Auckland in nine-try thriller

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/09/2016
Sevu Reece of Waikato in action during the round four Mitre 10 Cup match between Auckland and Waikato at Eden Park © Getty Images Sevu Reece of Waikato in action during the round four Mitre 10 Cup match between Auckland and Waikato at Eden Park

Waikato showed defending the Ranfurly Shield isn't their only priority this year after holding out Auckland 35-32 in a Premiership division NPC match at Eden Park.

The visitors surged into the top four following the nine-try thriller in which second-placed Auckland spent the closing stages hammering on attack to no avail.

It was a third successive win for Waikato, who face a Ranfurly Shield challenge next week against third-placed Taranaki.

They rushed to a 15-0 lead courtesy of early tries to prop Loni Uhila and 19-year-old wing Sevu Reece.

Directed well by halves Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Damian McKenzie, Waikato looked to play the game at pace against an Auckland team fatigued from a four-day turnaround from their last match.

Auckland took advantage of a yellow card shown to Uhila for a professional foul, scoring through flanker Blake Gibson and hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate.

Penalties either side of halftime to Auckland first five Simon Hickey put his team 18-15 ahead before Waikato scorched over for 20 unanswered points, boosted by a double to wing Illiesa Ratuva.

Auckland dominated the closing stages, scoring converted tries to Gibson and lock Patrick Tuipulotu to put them back in range before succumbing to the second loss of their season.

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