Rich pickings for Poverty Bay
Poverty Bay were good value for their 23-10 win over Wairarapa-Bush in the Heartland championship rugby match at Memorial Park, Masterton on Saturday.
The visitors had greater intensity in their forward play and showed more flair in the backs and the end margin between the two sides was a fair enough reflection of their respective merits.
Desperately needing a victory to keep alive their rapidly fading hopes of making it through to the Meads Cup semis for a third successive season Wairarapa-Bush were always chasing their tail from the time Poverty Bay wing Henry Bridge scored an unconverted try after some slick passing had seen him provided with an overlap in the 10th minute of play.
A Ben Aoina penalty reduced the advantage to 5-3 but soon after Wairarapa-Bush fullback Sam Monaghan had a clearing kick charged down inside his own 22, Poverty Bay grasped the opportunity to score their second try and the conversion had them 12-3 up, a lead they retained through until halftime
Try number three for the visitors came early in the second half when they capitalised on a tap kick taken from a penalty awarded close to the Wairarapa-Bush line and then the home team had a stroke of good fortune, a loose Poverty Bay pass landing in the hands of wing Paul Tikomainavalu who sprinted 60m for the try, shrugging off a couple of cover defenders in the process. Aoina converted and Poverty Bay led 17-10. Two more penalties to the visitors and it was all over bar the shouting.
It was a tough day at the office for the Wairarapa-Bush forwards.
They struggled to gain any sort of parity in the set pieces of scrum and lineout, were often on the back foot in the mauls and seldom won the race for the ball on the ground. The loss midway through the first half of prop Finnbarr Kerr-Newell with a leg injury, which could see him sidelined for the remainder of the season, didn’t help their cause and with usual hooker Richard Puddy being rested after taking a knock on the head in the match with South Canterbury the previous weekend, there were obvious communication hassles at lineout time.
As has become the norm lock Andrew McLean was probably the pick of the Wairarapa-Bush forwards because of his drive and commitment and flanker Rima Marurai made a decent impact off the bench, especially with the assertiveness of his close quarter defence.
Whereas a Poverty Bay backline, spearheaded by hard-running midfielders Rico Gear and Ti Moeke and containing a couple of pacy wings in Brynn Uriarau and Henry Bridge, always looked threatening on attack their Wairarapa-Bush counterparts made little impression in that domain.The lack of front foot ball didn’t help their cause but,even so, their inability to make the most of what chances they did get was disappointing. To his credit wing Nathan Hunt chased hard all game and there were a couple of decent breaks in broken play from second-five Byron Karaitiana.
Henry Bridge, Brent Ingram and Clayton Kiwara scored tries for Poverty Bay and Kiwara also kicked two penalties and one conversion. Pauk Tikomainavalu scored the Wairarapa-Bush try and Ben Aoina kicked one penalty and one conversion.
In other Heartland championship matches played on Saturday Buller beat South Canterbury 19-10, Thames Valley beat East Coast 21-8, Mid-Canterbury defeated Wanganui 30-14, King Country beat North Otago 17-14 and Horowhenua-Kapiti edged past West Coast 19-17.
Competition points after four rounds: Buller 19, South Canterbury 15, Poverty Bay 15, Horowhenua-Kapiti 15, Thames Valley 14, Mid-Canterbury 12, King Country 10, North Otago 7, Wanganui 4, Wairarapa-Bush 2, West Coast 1 and East Coast 0.
Wairarapa-Bush meets Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin next Saturday.Then comes matches against Thames Valley in Masterton on September 27, Wanganui in Wanganui on October 4 and Buller in Masterton on October 11.
By Gary Caffell – WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE