South Island keep their hopes of a finals appearance alive with an impressive win over Auckland White
Auckland White led on two separate occasions but couldn’t hold the South Island team out defensively.
A late Mapu Uasi try, along with his accurate boot throughout the game, proved the difference in the end and means the South Island remain in the race for a spot in the decider, pending the result of Sunday’s match between Central Districts and Waicoa Bay.
Earlier at Opaheke Park Auckland White raced out of the gate and had scored a point a minute by the time the game was 10 minutes old, thanks to efforts from Tolomanila Saumamao-Watts and Navajo Doyle, along with a Doux Kauhiva conversion.
But the next 40 minutes proved fruitless for the Francis Meli-coached outfit and they quickly surrendered momentum to the South Island, leaking tries in quick succession to Eli Ellison, Kiarn Wilson and Sincere Harraway.
Uasi converted all three efforts to give the South Island team an 18-10 lead at the break.
Auckland gave up another four-pointer immediately in the second half, before Howick wing Peter Uelese brought them back into the contest with two tries in the space of five minutes, one of which was converted by Kauhiva to reduce the deficit to two points.
A brilliant passage of play minutes later saw Auckland travel the full length of the field and cross again through Saumamao-Watts to lead 24-22.
But Uasi’s strike with minutes to go confirmed the result for the southerners, leaving Auckland White to play for pride next week against Northland at Opaheke Park.
South Island 26 (Eli Ellison, Kiarn Wilson, Sincere Harraway, Kyle Amer, Mapu Uasi tries; Mapu Uasi x3 goals) def. Auckland 24 (Tolomanila Saumamao-Watts x2, Navajo Doyle, Peter Uelese x2 tries; Doux Kauhiva x2 goals) at Opaheke Park. HT: 18-10