Auckland White emerged 30-16 winners over Wai-Coa-Bay in Rd 1 of the NZRL National 20s competition at Rotorua International Stadium.
The Auckland side were strong through the first half, scoring three tries via Kyson Kingi, Viliami Kuli and Corey Cassidy-Natano, with two conversions from halfback Doux Kauhiva giving them a 16-4 lead at halftime.
Kingi opened the scoring on the right edge after eight minutes of play, followed by Kauhiva slicing through Wai-Coa-Bay’s defence to find Kuli.
On the 25th minute Wai-Coa-Bay’s second rower Rawiri Mathews put points on the board – following a 10 minute delay due to an injury – before Cassidy-Natano dotted down in the left corner.
Wai-Coa-Bay hit first in the second spell, before Kuli made a huge break to give Te Napi Waipouri a four-pointer under the posts, followed by prop Tony Tafa crashing over to give the visitors a 26-10 lead.
Off the back of two penalties, Wai-Coa-Bay prop Aamon Dean burrowed over to reduce the deficit to 26-16, but Auckland’s Elam Payne hit back quickly to end any chance of a comeback.
Auckland White will play Northland on Saturday, March 6 at Takahiwai Rugby League Club.
Auckland White 30 (Kyson Kingi, Viliami Kuli, Corey Cassidy-Natano, Te Napi Waipouri, Tony Tafa, Elam Payne tries; Doux Kauhiva x3 conversions) def. Wai-Coa-Bay 16 (Rawiri Mathews, Te Ohomauri Rapana, Aamon Dean tries; Xavier Mitchell x2 conversions) at Rotorua International Stadium.