Nikau Graham punished Auckland U19 with his unerring boot in a contest where the home side were only too happy to feed off the opposition mistakes as the Junior Taniwha won 24-20.

The Northland U19 second five-eighth whacked eight penalties for a personal haul of 24 points to Auckland's 20 at Okara Park in Whangārei on Sunday.

The match was the curtain-raiser to the Mitre 10 Cup clash between Northland and Taranaki.

A litany of penalties, especially in the last quarter by the visitors, was gold to superboot Graham whose left-foot kicks were as constant as the brisk north westerlies wafting across the pitch.


The young lad had a knack for knocking them over from everywhere and the Auckland kept giving him the opportunity just reeked of stupidity. They didn't show any capacity to learn.

Nor did they show any capacity to cut out the poor discipline. They couldn't get themselves onside no matter how many times Graham punished them with his boot.

The funny thing is, Northland didn't have to think outside the box for some special play to send the visitors packing.

Nope. All they had to do was pick-and-go around the fringes that had become their happy place, kick the ball away and let Auckland run at them.

But going forward, Northland U19 will need to build their collective skills, experience, maturity and tactical certainty to win regularly rather than rely on certain aspects of their game, more notably Graham's boot.

They will also need to improve on their tackle technique and their ability to quickly recycle off rucks when the opposition are slow to retreat.

Northland couldn't have asked for a worse start after wing Josefa Kolinisau touched down in the corner for Auckland just two minutes from kick off.

Graham fumbled the ball while scrambling back to scoop a loose pass and the visitors pounced.

Their second try came in the 26th minute after the hosts' defence was caught short on the blindside following numerous phases of pick and go by Auckland.

The side from the City of Sails again struck a couple of minutes later with their third try.

Prop Jackson Clarke dived over a morass of bodies while referee Ryan Borthwick was playing advantage.

No 8 John Latu was lucky to stay on the field after a high tackle on Graham, who recovered from the clobbering to inflict more pain with his deadly left foot.

Auckland's frustration was palpable in the dying stages when their accuracy and cohesion slipped amid mounting pressure by Northland.

Auckland turned down kicks at goal in favour of lineouts in the face of a disintegrating set piece attack that went from bad to worse.

Their last vestige of hope was a lineout but the hosts pinched the throw and all lock Thomas Anderson had to do was to kick it out.