Auckland won the NPC final with a 39-11 victory over Otago at Eden Park tonight. 

The home side scored a number of late tries, outscoring Otago by six tries to one.

Only desperate defence from Otago kept them in the match at halftime, when they trailed 8-10, but Auckland continued their fast-tempo game after the interval to gradually break down Otago's resistance.  

Auckland dominated the contentious breakdown area to provide quick, quality ball to a backline of gamebreakers, who cut loose in the second half as Otago's will was extinguished.  

The winners were irrepressible in the second half as they scored five tries, three of them to substitutes Brad Mika, Ben Atiga and Taniela Moa.  

Moa's effort in the last minute was particularly galling for Otago as they turned over ruck ball to allow halfback Moa to pick the ball up and scamper 60m in an unchallenged run to the tryline.  

Otago's fate had been sealed well before then as they showed little respect for the ball, gifting possession away at an alarming rate as Auckland pressured them into a stream of errors.  

Otago had opened the scoring in the eighth minute when flanker Josh Blackie scored a try after a patient build-up as the Auckland defence was stretched to the right, the left, then the right again.  

Nick Evans and Auckland fullback Brent Ward then traded penalties before the home team hit the lead in the 32nd minute thanks to an audacious lineout move which ended with Keven Mealamu scoring a try.  

Mealamu fed a long ball to the lineout where he found Jerome Kaino, who transferred the ball to lock Angus Macdonald. He in turned handed it to Daniel Braid, who returned it to Mealamu towards the touchline for the All Blacks hooker to chart a path to the line. 

Auckland stretched the advantage to 15-8 in the 47th minute when wing Doug Howlett juggled but held on to a floating pass from halfback Steve Devine, although Evans kept his side in touch with another penalty 14 minutes later to trim the difference to four points.  

The match turned in the 67th minute when Mika burrowed over from a ruck close to the line, then Atiga, Muliaina and Moa added late tries to blow out the scoreline.  

It was the last final played under the present format, with the NPC undergoing a major makeover next year when a 14-team premier division is introduced as New Zealand rugby's domestic showpiece.


Result:
Auckland 39 (
Tries - Kevin Mealamu, Doug Howlett, Brad Mika, Ben Atiga, Mils Muliaina, Taniela Moa; Cons - Brent Ward 2, Ben Atiga; Pens - Brent Ward)
Otago 11 (Tries - Josh Blackie; Pens - Nick Evans 2) 

- NZPA