Bay of Plenty 16
Luckless Liaki Moli may have dodged a bullet despite being stretchered off in Auckland's win over Bay of Plenty.
The 25-16 win moves Auckland into second place in the ITM Cup premiership, but they will push for a place in the final without Moli.
His hopes of a strong Super 15 campaign with the Blues this year were quashed by a bad shoulder injury late in the 38-37 domestic semifinal defeat by Waikato last October.
That delayed start lingered into the early stages of the current cup campaign. Moli was having his first start against BOP after a couple of encouraging appearances off the bench.
Early in the second half, Moli fell badly and redamaged the same shoulder.
His pain was evident as he was transported off the field.
He was still in hospital late yesterday after a MRI scan had revealed some AC joint damage but no evidence of dislocation, although the injury was painful.
Auckland have also lost hooker Ash Dixon for the season with a medial ligament strain.
Auckland play Waikato in Hamilton this weekend and must win to keep their final hopes alive.
A 79th-minute penalty by Glenn Dickson enabled Otago to sneak past Tasman 19-16 in Nelson yesterday to retain a slim hope of making the championship final.
Championship leaders Hawkes Bay remain in the box seat to host the final after a 44-14 win over Counties Manukau in Napier yesterday.
Hawke's Bay scored six tries to keep pace with championship rivals Manawatu at the top of the table.