Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby: Auckland breeze past Manawatu

Francis Saili of Auckland makes a break during the ITM Cup match between Manawatu and Auckland at FMG Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.
Francis Saili of Auckland makes a break during the ITM Cup match between Manawatu and Auckland at FMG Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.

Auckland 35
Manawatu 7

This was just what Auckland needed.

After being blown off the park 48-9 by Canterbury last week, Paul Feeney's side bounced back in emphatic fashion as they brushed aside an ill-disciplined Manawatu outfit 35-7 in Palmerston North this afternoon.

Manawatu aren't the worst side in the competition and even scored a 28-23 win over Northland in their season-opener last Sunday but they fired few shots against an Auckland team who had a strong dose of Super Rugby players in their ranks.

The difference in playing rosters was exemplified by the depth at first-five, where Auckland had the Wales-bound Gareth Anscombe run the cutter in the early stages before New Zealand under-20s skipper Simon Hickey finished the job.

Manawatu spent the afternoon on the wrong side of the whistle and they had two players sent to the sin bin at different stages during the game as they gave away penalties with alarming regularity.

Anscombe scored the first try of the game and when George Moala added another one shortly after it looked like things could get ugly quickly.

To Manawatu's credit they held firm during the middle of the game but when brothers Francis and Peter Saili each bagged a five-pointer for Auckland during the final stages the scoreline blew out.

Sloppy handling was also another major problem for Manawatu and they just lacked a touch of quality and precision on attack, although they did manage to score a consolation try during the dying moments of the contest as burly prop Chris Eves dotted down.

Auckland look like a side who needed a confidence-booster and this will have done them plenty of good.

Manawatu have a quick turnaround as they travel to the capital to meet Wellington on Friday night, while Auckland will host Tasman next Sunday.

Coach killer: The whistle seemed to be blowing with regularity during this one and Manawatu coach Jason O'Halloran will have not have been pleased with the lack of discipline from his men.

Good to see you again: Two-test All Black Francis Saili looks back to his attacking best, which will be a pleasing thought for Steve Hansen.

Auckland 35 (Gareth Anscombe, George Moala, Francis Saili, Peter Saili tries; Anscombe 3 pen, 2 con, Simon Hickey con) Manawatu 7 (Chris Eves try; Otere Black con) halftime: 20-0


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