31 Oct 2020

Rayasi hat-trick lifts Auckland into top spot

9:53 pm on 31 October 2020

Auckland have jumped to the top of the men's national provincial rugby premiership.

Salesi Rayasi scores a try during the Mitre 10 Cup rugby union match between Auckland and Waikato. Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand.  Saturday 31 October 2020.

Salesi Rayasi scores one of his three tries against Waikato Photo: Photosport Ltd 2020

They've beaten Waikato 31-10 at Eden Park, after holding a slender 14-7 halftime lead, to leapfrog the Mooloos and Tasman in the competition standings.

Salesi Rayasi scored a hat-trick of tries for Auckland and provided the cross-field kick for their fourth which secured an all-important bonus point.

Auckland are now a point clear of Tasman and three clear of Waikato, who started round eight at the top of the ladder.

The Mako earlier beat Wellington 19-3 in blustery, wet conditions at Jerry Collins Stadium in Porirua.

Two penalties from Mitch Hunt and a try from Sione Havili saw Tasman lead 11-0 at halftime.

Tasman forward Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta scored the Mako's second try in the 69th minute and a third Hunt penalty completed the scoring shortly before fulltime.

Tasman players celebrate Leicester Faingaanuka try during their Mitre 10 Cup Rugby match. Tasman Mako v Auckland. Trafalgar Park, Nelson, New Zealand. Friday 27 September 2019. ©Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

A second-half Jackson Garden-Bachop penalty was all Wellington had to show for their efforts.

Wellington remain fourth and are now five points behind the Mako.

And...North Harbour have moved off the bottom of the premiership.

Harbour have beaten Northland 24-8 in Whangarei to jump above Canterbury and Bay of Plenty into fifth.

Luteru Tolai, Bryn Gatland and Fini Inisi have scored tries for Harbour, who led 17-3 at halftime.

Gatland also kicked three conversions and a penalty.

Scott Gregory scored Northland's only try midway through the second-half before being red-carded five minutes from fulltime for tackling a player in the air.

The Taniwha remain third in the championship standings, three points above Taranaki, who play host to Counties-Manukau tomorrow afternoon.