Round 2 of the 2019 Mitre Cup will get underway on Thursday the 15th of August with a North Island derby between Northland and Auckland.
Reigning Premiership champions Auckland will be looking to put their disappointing 28-28 opening round draw behind them when they take on Championship outfit Northland this Thursday. The hosts head into this one as strong favourites with the ‘books but will need to put in a far better shift this week if they are to claim a bonus-point win here.
Northland v Auckland
Thursday 15 August
To Win (80 Mins)
The Championship outfit got their campaign off to a solid if not spectacular start as they claimed a 17-27 away victory over minnows Southland The game was played in atrocious conditions but, encouragingly, Northland still managed to run in some great tries.
The recent results between the sides indicate that Northland will face an uphill battle here. When these two sides met last season Northland were condemned to a 12-28 home defeat. The year prior, saw Auckland edge the fixture 10-8, while in 2016 Auckland ran out 37-15 victors.
Is there any other side in New Zealand that can make as hard a job closing out a game as Auckland can. Having take a commanding lead into the break Auckland failed to score any points in the second stanza while North harbour came roaring back into the game to claim a well-deserved draw. Things could have actually been worse for Auckland had a late North Habour penalty attempt dissected the posts rather than going just wide of them.
Auckland will need to put a stronger showing in during the second half of this week’s fixture. They have a brilliant backline but there’s no point in them being on the field during the second 40-minutes of a game if you’re just going to look to shut up shop.
Verdict: Auckland 2/9
Lessons will have been learnt from last weekend’s defeat. I expect Auckland to keep the foot on the gas for the entirety of this Thursday’s game, which should see them claim a win in excess of 10 points.