14 Sep

The 'Mighty' Auks?
by Zand Moloney
14 Sep 2004

Now, I don’t want this to be an article where I gloat and revel in the misfortune of Auckland but must ask this, why is Pat Lam so confident of retaining his job with the ‘powerhouse of New Zealand rugby’ doing so badly. People often say ‘When Auckland rugby does well so does New Zealand rugby,’ if that’s the case we are in trouble because this Auckland side is pretty poor.

Wellington played very well, the only thing that continues to concern me is the great big hole that is going to be left when David Holwell leaves. I have had many debates about this particular player, with some people saying to me he is average and all he does is kick goals and for the line. Last Saturday he made a liar of all people who hold that opinion, his vision and Lome Fa’atau’s pace combining for the try of the season. Welllington again looked much more composed when he came on the field to replace poor Ma’a Nonu and I just can’t see that there is a ready-made replacement for him. For many season he has been the man who has held the creative players together and I worry about what will happens when he goes.

In terms of the rest of the backline, again Conrad Smith showed his class as did Nonu until he went off with a broken thumb. It is a tragedy for Nonu as has been the form second five this season and would have been a shoe-in for the All Blacks tour. One hopes his injury heals quickly. That said Wellington are very lucky to have the All Black captain to slot in at centre and move Smith in one.
Fa’atau played well, but Bobo was unconvincing, perhaps it is time to give Roy Kinikinilau a chance out wide to give a different sort of threat, the broadsword to Fa’atau’s rapier.

The forwards were outstanding, two pushover tries from a pack that has been much maligned over the years shows what a good job John Plumtree has done. Neemia Tialata had a hard time in the scrums, but did well around the field, McDonnell seemed to have the better of old mate Kees Meuwes, and Mahonri Schwalger again put his hand up for Hurricanes honours with another strong performance.
The loose trio was again brilliant and had the measure of Rush, Lauaki and Kaino.

I will refrain from commenting about the performance of the referee, I think enough has been said by others but those in charge should review the ‘injury time’ he allowed Auckland carefully, personally I thought it was extremely pedantic.
Bring on the Bay!!

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