NPC Final - Auckland vs Canterbury (free entry)



  • Super late to the party, wasn't able to comment on this game at the time, but what a match this was and what a fight back!

    Was so good to see the crowd turn up and stick around even when the rain came about and we were well behind. I actually can't believe the players were able to play at such a high level in such poor conditions.

    Not quite sure how we pulled this one off, but after that Manu try(33rd minute), momentum really swung our way and we dominated possession and territory from that point onwards. I think it took until the 83rd minute for Canterbury to get back into our 22.

    Akira was massive from the 2nd half onwards. That backrow of Akira, Seu and Sotutu late in the 2nd half and overtime period was pretty awesome to watch - they were a real handful for Canterbury. It's a bit of a risk to sub out your only openside, but it worked out well for us.

    Olmstead gave it everything and made a number of key plays in overtime. He looked pretty dead at one point, but he just kept going. I think the whole team were practically running on heart in overtime.

    Faiane led really well. In the 2nd half, TJ knew the forwards were a bit tired after expending so much energy in the 1st half, so he consciously played closer to the ruck to help them out with carries and cleanouts. Just a massive workrate in this game. The stats kind of back-up how big a game he had.

    Trainor played a near faultless game in tough conditions for a fullback. He and TJ were pretty much the only players to turn up for us in that first half. Been so good to see a fullback in an Auckland jersey who can run, kick and pass well - it's been awhile.

    The bench were immense. Adding Fukofuka to the line-up after leaving him out for the last 3 games was a master stroke in the end, because he made quite an impact in this game. Seu only had 20 minutes of rugby prior to the final, but he probably played the game of his life.

    So proud of what the guys have achieved this year, can't wait for next season. 🙂



  • Epic game of footy. Well played Auckland.

    However, just a blip on the radar which means little in terms of the greater order in NZ rugby. The Canterbury side wasn't a patch on that of the last few years due to player losses and unavailability year-on-year but will be much better for this campaign and will be back into their groove again sooner rather than later thanks to the talent development that goes into the Canterbury and Crusaders academy programs and the fortuitous situation with Lincoln University as a quasi-Canterbury bonus academy program.

    Auckland certainly imporved drastically on 2017 and a couple of decent players emerged but I can easily see them crashing in 2019 (where did they get to after making the 2015 final?) and all of a sudden Ieremia could be under pressure to retain his job, there will be a selection turnstile and the good work of 2018 will be undone. There certainly isn't enough being done in Auckland rugby to have any serious benefit to the Blues in the short term. One group of average to decent players with a handful of stars meshed for a season but the fabric of Auckland footy is so threadbare at the development levels that just a few minor setbacks could see the work done in 2018 being torn apart. If there was some tangible solidity behind this Auckland side in terms of player retention and development than they may be able to carry this on and the benefit to the Blues would be tangible, but it's probably a flash-in-the-pan, 'every dog has it's day' kind of scenario.



  • Getting in nice and promptly with your congrats, shark . . .



  • I've been smarting over this for months 🙂



  • @Smudge said in NPC Final - Auckland vs Canterbury (free entry):

    Getting in nice and promptly with your congrats, shark . . .

    and @dice thought he was super late.....



  • I agree that it's just a start, but it's clear the new coaching regime and the Auckland back office have set a new foundation to try and build more consistent results. They didn't expect the turnaround to be so drastic, a nice bonus.

    That includes how talent is identified, not just how they are coached (that alone was a massive improvement this year), btw. And all the neglected areas in the past few years of team culture, responsibility, etc.

    For such a young team, I was really impressed at the work on defence, and the ability to get themselves out of bad situations. The mental strength and self belief in the final was phenomenal and will be a huge benefit going into next year. In those conditions, to come back from so far behind against what used to be the best side in NZ, and then to just steamroller them, was great viewing. One of the best crowds I've been part of as well, it was epic.

    As for the Blues, long way to go there. The new coaches are a start, as are the changes on the board. And apparantly work is under way to improve the poor relationship with Auckland Rugby. I suspect we still need a new CEO, and still a few more changes on the board, and new talent scouts. That's before we shed the Tana error awful squad selections of the past three years.



  • @shark said in NPC Final - Auckland vs Canterbury (free entry):

    Epic game of footy. Well played Auckland.

    Thanks fella.

    The difference in the game I think was Romano going off. He was epic - not sure if he won NPC player of the year, but he should have. Ioane stayed on, Romano went off - and no matter the Auckland mental toughness, that's probably the difference.

    As for the rest of your post, will be interesting to come back to after a year or two. The stark difference for me is a side that seemed to want to play for each other and for pride in the jersey. That is not something that I've seen for the past few years. They certainly won my respect, and that of 20,000 of my closest friends 😛



  • I have the utmost respect for what the coaches and playing group were able to acheive in 2018. The issue is whether there is any longevity to it, because of the apparent inherent 'back-office' issues in Auckland rugby and talent identification and player retention difficulties. As long as they continue to haemorrhage the Brayden Ennors to the likes of the Canterbury academy, there is little hope. Retaing Niko Jones is a start though, assuming those now tasked with managing his development are up to it (is this another issue?)



  • @shark said in NPC Final - Auckland vs Canterbury (free entry):

    I have the utmost respect for what the coaches and playing group were able to acheive in 2018. The issue is whether there is any longevity to it, because of the apparent inherent 'back-office' issues in Auckland rugby and talent identification and player retention difficulties. As long as they continue to haemorrhage the Brayden Ennors to the likes of the Canterbury academy, there is little hope. Retaing Niko Jones is a start though, assuming those now tasked with managing his development are up to it (is this another issue?)

    They seem to have done a pretty decent job of managing the development of Papali'i and Harry Plummer. It will be interesting to see how some of the fringe Auckland guys go in the Blues this year (Sotutu, Tele'a, Lindenmuth etc.)



  • Papali'i yes, but the jury is out on Plummer. He wouldn't be the first Auckland first-five to look good in his first year and then fall away badly.