Hawke's Bay 55

Northland 41

Finally, we have a legitimate contender for the strangest Mitre 10 Cup game of the season.

Usually, New Zealand's provincial rugby competition throws up several quirky scorelines, but while high scoring contests had been in vogue this season, we were yet to see anything approaching last year's point scoring craze.


Remember Canterbury 78, Southland 20? North Harbour 64, Taranaki 33? Wellington 59, Bay of Plenty 45? Maybe you do, maybe you don't, but it's time to add Hawke's Bay v Northland into that wonderfully eclectic mix, following a chaotic game tonight.

Sure, Hawke's Bay claiming a 14-point home victory over Northland doesn't seem particularly noteworthy on its face, but throw in 14 tries, 56 missed tackles and a combined 900 running metres, and the final result was a classic 55-41 scoreline.

It gets better. Somehow, in surely a first, Northland had 38 points at halftime – and lost. After running riot to take a 38-24 lead at the break, they folded in the second stanza at McLean Park, mustering a mere Jack Debreczeni penalty as Hawke's Bay came storming back.

Before Hawke's Bay formed a sudden - and admittedly relative - defensive wall, defence didn't merely seem optional, it appeared frowned upon as the teams pillaged points in a frantic start.

Initially, it was Northland who gained the ascendancy – scoring 35 points in the span of just 23 minutes, but Hawke's Bay were keeping pace, and once they decided tackling opposition players was a good option, they launched a second-half comeback.

Northland didn't have an answer for the Hawke's Bay duo of Jamie-Jerry Taulagi and Marino Mikaele Tu'u, while Brad Weber – also making a rare appearance kicking goals - laid on three try assists.

Nine tries later, Hawke's Bay had a win which practically secures them of a spot in the Championship semifinals, while Northland stay in third place with a 3-4 record as they aim for their first top-flight winning season since 1980.

Hawke's Bay 55 (Ben Power 2, Pasqualle Dunn 2, Stacey Ili 2, Gareth Evans, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi tries; Taulagi 3 cons, Brad Weber 2 cons)
Northland 41 (Matt Wright 2, Jaycob Matiu, Jordan Hyland, Rene Ranger tries; Jack Debreczeni 5 cons, 2 pens)
HT: 24-38