North Harbour 44 Bay of Plenty 34

There are bigger fish to fry next week, but North Harbour got the job done, in some style, for their fifth consecutive victory in Albany and fourth of this Mitre 10 Cup.

It keeps them well in the Championship semifinal hunt, briefly into third position, and eyeing up a Ranfurly Shield challenge, their second of the season, against Canterbury on Friday night.

North Harbour were not perfect, but when the rain eased, they played with some accuracy and positive intent and the ball bounced their way on occasion. Some of their key men were unsung members of an industrious pack, men like flankers Connor Collett and Glen Preston, both of whom made their tackles and never shirked their work around the ruck.

Wing Tevita Li scored two tries to take his season tally to five, four of them in the last two games. His first try was a 95m thing of beauty from a counter-attack which featured myriad pairs of hands.


"I think we went out there today in tough conditions and put out a good performance for our fans," said Li. "I think our game drivers took control well."

He is now happy to focus on another crack at the Log o' Wood, last seen in Albany nine years ago.

"That was in the back of our minds today, but today we did what had to be done, and now we can focus on what has to be done next week," said the 21-year-old, who is Highlanders-bound for 2017.

Captain and lock Chris Vui carried well, won his lineout ball and scored a try, skipping out of a tackle. At one point, all four of Harbour's tries had gone to Massey club players. First five Bryn Gatland banged over six goals from nine attempts before earning a rest.

Bay of Plenty toiled hard, and picked up a bonus point with a late flurry, but were not able to cap lock Culum Retallick's 100th game for the union in fitting style. They did, however, score five nice tries, coming home with a wet sail, two of the tries from lineout drives.

Young fullback Isaac Te Aute set up Monty Ioane with a slashing break that was reminiscent of his memorable solo score in the national First XV final of 2015 for Rotorua BHS.

North Harbour have another six days to prepare for Friday night's Shield challenge in Christchurch, while Bay of Plenty are back into it next Sunday, hosting Manawatu in Rotorua.

North Harbour 44 (T. Li 2, C. Vui, M. Vaega, N. Mayhew, M. Duffie tries; B. Gatland 4 cons, 2 pens)
Bay of Plenty 34 (T. Stanaway, M. Ioane, H. Stowers, J. Royal, J. Parete tries; D. Hollinshead 3 cons, pen)
HT: 20-10