Mitre 10 Cup: Auckland hold on to beat Bay of Plenty at Eden Park

Premiership champions Auckland have stamped their mark on the Mitre 10 Cup, with a gritty 19-13 win over the Bay of Plenty Steamers at Eden Park.

The visitors dominated possession and territory, but were unable to break down the disciplined defence.

The Steamers started well, hitting the front in the third minute, when flanker Mitch Karpik made his way over the line, after a break from winger Emoni Narawa. 

The hosts' dynamic backs got them back in the game, after Caleb Clarke made the initial break, before a cross-field kick found Salesi Rayasi, who beat Chase Tiatia to score Auckland's first try. 

The home side continued to attack with flair and tried to break the stubborn Steamers defence - Rayasi got the ball out wide and finished in acrobatic style to claim his second try. 

Rieko Ioane plucked an intercept pass to get his name on the team sheet, taking Auckland's lead out to 19-7 - a confidence-boosting try for the All Blacks winger, who has struggled for form in the black jersey. 

The Bay pressed for points towards the end of the first half, but came up empty, as Auckland went into the break ahead by 12 points.

Tiatia was sin-binned for the visitors, after taking Clarke in the air, and the night got worse for Bay of Plenty, when hooker Nathan Harris was taken off injured.

Bay of Plenty continued to knock on the door and controlled a large chunk of possession, but couldn't find the final pass to score, handling errors costing them. 

A Dan Hollinshead penalty got the Steamers to within nine points with just under 20 minutes to go.

They continued to pile on the pressure deep in Auckland's half, but couldn't convert the pressure into points, spending more than nine minutes in the opposition's 22 in the second half, but able to cross the line.

Hollinshead added another three points with two minutes remaining to set up an exciting finish, but it wasn't enough, as Auckland held on to record their second win of the season and hand Bay of Plenty their first loss. 

Auckland travel to Hamilton, where they take on Waikato next Saturday, and the Steamers will face on North Harbour on Sunday.



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