Auckland made up for recent frustrations in ITM Cup clashes against Waikato when unleashing a 60-19 record scoring performance against their old rivals in the wet at Eden Park on Thursday.
With nine tries to three, Auckland also achieved the greatest victory in contests between the sides, surpassing their own 50-4 win in 1984 and Waikato’s 59-11 win in 2004.
Waikato didn’t get their traffic calculations right and were caught up, not arriving at the ground until 6.50pm – and they played like it.
By comparison, Auckland were unstoppable. With lock Patrick Tuipolotu inspiring in the tight, and Joe Edwards, Peter Saili and Sean Polwart triumphant in the loose, and a promising debut performance by hooker Gafatasi Su’a Auckland looked a more complete package. As if the forward power wasn’t enough, wings George Moala and Ben Lam were destructive every time they handled the ball.
Waikato had few moments to savour with handling issues all night minimising their chances.
After conceding an early penalty goal, those handling issues allowed Auckland to pack a scrum in the sixth minute in the Waikato 22m area. It was a simple blindside move on the right which saw halfback Junior Poluleuligaga cross wide out.
Waikato struck back with a five-metre scrum but Poluleuligaga pressured his rival Brad Weber and the ball was cleared. A turnover executed by Sean Polwart saw his fellow flanker Joe Edwards charge into space and carry play to the 22m. When the ball was moved wide it was fullback Lolagi Visinia who scored in the 14th minute.
An attempted tactical kick by Waikato first five-eighths Damian McKenzie was picked up by Lam and he took the play right back to Waikato charging 40m on the break to set up a play which saw the ball taken back across field for debut hooker Su’a to score.
Almost immediately Auckland cashed in on some more destructive play from Lam who bustled the visitors and secured ball which saw centre Hadleigh Parkes feed Edwards the perfect pass to race in under the posts.
There was no let-up from Auckland as Polwart secured a midfield turnover and the ball was moved left where a powerful run by Moala saw him over the for the fifth try. In completing the conversion which took Auckland out to a 34-0 lead in as many minutes, Anscombe completed his century for the season.
Coming back after the break, Auckland proved unrelenting as Moala backed a lineout drive by coming in from the short side to break the defence and when the ball emerged Anscombe raced through the gap to the line for a try.
There was some reward at last for Waikato when a lineout maul produced a try for prop Loni Uhila but the elation was short-lived as some Auckland forward power resulted in replacement lock Jack Whetton crossing in the corner in the 51st minute.
Auckland were caught napping at a midfield penalty and McKenzie snared the ball, took a quick tap and found Anton Lienert-Brown inside for support and he scored.
Hooker Hame Faiva scored a third for Waikato with 10 minutes of the game remaining
Scorers: Auckland 60 (Junior Poluleuligaga’ Lolagi Visinia, Gafatasi Su’a, Joe Edwards, George Moala 2, Gareth Anscombe, Jack Whetton, Blake Gibson tries; Anscombe 4 con, pen; Simon Hickey 2 con) Waikato 19 (Loni Uhila, Anton Lienert-Brown, Hame Faiva tries; Damian McKenzie 2 con). HT: 34-0