Waikato slips to rock bot­tom

Hamilton Press - - OUT & ABOUT - JOSEPH PEAR­SON

Can­ter­bury showed Waikato how to takes chances with clin­i­cal ex­e­cu­tion when de­fend­ing the Ran­furly Shield in Christchurch.

A 17-37 de­feat at AMI Sta­dium means the Mooloos have kissed good­bye to the fi­nals for a sixth straight sea­son and switched to sur­vival mode in the Mitre 10 Cup.

Waikato have slumped to rock bot­tom and trail Auck­land and Coun­ties Manukau, who are fifth and sixth re­spec­tively, by three points in the pre­mier­ship stand­ings with two rounds to play.

Satur­day’s shield chal­lenge in Can­ter­bury was the last gen­uine hope of some­thing to smile about dur­ing another poor cam­paign, but this lat­est loss is Waikato’s fifth on the trot.

Waikato will be happy to see the back of Septem­ber after not reg­is­ter­ing any com­pe­ti­tion points since los­ing 31-29 to Tas­man on Septem­ber 3.

The Mooloos bat­tled away and dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory but Can­ter­bury’s four tries typ­i­fied their ruth­less streak as peren­nial kings of pro­vin­cial rugby.

Can­ter­bury winger Bray­don En­nor pounced on Sam Christie’s aw­ful pass in the 22nd minute to score un­der the posts and get the ball rolling after Waikato had started brightly.

It was 30-0 in a flash as Richie Mo’unga added two penal­ties be­fore Rob Thompson and Josh McKay fin­ished off two more out­stand­ing Can­ter­bury at­tacks and the log looked lost.

Waikato were stung by sucker punches after fail­ing to con­vert pres­sure into points and Can­ter­bury’s dev­as­tat­ing counter at­tacks made them pay.

The Mooloos won the sec­ond half after Pita Ahki opened their ac­count just be­fore the break and they frus­trated Can­ter­bury after Tom San­ders’ try put them 37-5 ahead after 46 min­utes.

Sevu Reece then grabbed a of brace of tries but Can­ter­bury, who scored all their points within 24 min­utes ei­ther side of half­time, were never in dan­ger of los­ing.

‘‘We put in a heck of a lot of ef­fort and I’m proud of the way the boys won the sec­ond half,’’ Waikato coach Sean Bother­way said.

‘‘But what cost us was mak­ing those er­rors, not be­ing clin­i­cal and pre­sent­ing the op­po­si­tion with counter at­tack op­por­tu­ni­ties. Can­ter­bury took their [chances] and that proved the dif­fer­ence.’’

Can­ter­bury loosie Tom San­ders charg­ing at Waikato’s line.

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