Bay of Plenty threw the form book out of the window as they trounced last year’s semi-finalsts Hawke’s Bay 30-11 in a National Provincial Championship second round match at Napier last night.
Bay of Plenty showed they had learned their lessons well from last week’s 10-13 defeat to Waikato last week, with halfback Taniela Moa playing powerfully from behind his forwards and deservedly getting the only try of the first half.
Hawke’s Bay, who drew their opening round match with Canterbury, had the home ground advantage but threw that away with a disjointed display indicating poor communication between the forwards and backs.
The sides exchanged penalty goals in the first 11 minutes with Andrew Horrell landing the first for Hawke’s Bay and Daniel Waenga replying for Bay of Plenty. Moa’s try came when he finished off a sustained period of pressure by his forwards in the 24th minute.
Bay of Plenty scored early in the second half after fullback Toby Arnold and wing Lance MacDonald combined in a searing counter-attack to carry the ball deep into Hawke’s Bay’s 22m before MacDonald transferred the ball to Lelia Masaga who was left unopposed to dotted down.
Hawke’s Bay coach Peter Russell’s half-time call to keep play tight and not kick possession away – as they had in the first half – dominated the next 20 minutes of the game but errors proved costly.
Hooker Hika Elliot was prominent in this phase of the game, one of his bursts almost producing a try, but halfback Kahn Kahn Fotuali’i dropped the pass with the tryline at his mercy. Elliot showed another touch of class when he chipped and chased while on the right wing but was stopped by a quickly covering Moa.
Hawke’s Bay’s spell over their opponents was finally lifted when centre Brett Mather and Waenga combined in a snap counter after Jason Shoemark spilled the ball.
Hawke’s Bay had hardly worked out what went wrong before Bay of Plenty hammed another two tries home in quick succession, the first to valiant skipper Colin Bourke and the second by substitute back Chad Tuoro, before Hawke’s Bay scored a consolation try on the final hooter through wing Richard Buckman.
NZPA WGT pm / Simon Willmore