The Auckland rugby team were given a unique welcome when they took to the field to take on Taranaki last night.

Taranaki mascot Ferdinand the Bull rolled out a box of red plastic balls as the visitors entered Yarrow Stadium, most probably a reference to the JAFA (Just Another F***** Aucklander) nickname coined for Aucklanders and not that the Auckland team have a brittle exterior.

Auckland did however melt when the heat was applied late in the game.

Taranaki went onto win a thrilling encounter after Toa Halafihi scored in the final minute as the hosts pinched a 35-32 victory.

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The defeat leaves Auckland in danger of missing out on the semifinals. Auckland currently sit on 30 points with Tasman and Counties Manukau both on 29 points with a game to play.