Poor dis­ci­pline be­fore home crowd

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By EVAN PEG­DEN

The mes­sage was clear for the Waikato rugby team af­ter suf­fer­ing their sec­ond loss to North­land in 13 years and their first in Hamil­ton in more than 30 years – ig­nore the game plan at your peril.

Waikato’s ITM Cup cam­paign de­railed early at Waikato Sta­dium on Satur­day with that 29-27 loss and there seems lit­tle doubt the play­ers will once again have their game struc­ture ham­mered into them this week as they go into a tough pe­riod with three op­po­nents in eight days. The home team had the ideal op­por­tu­nity to get their sea­son off to a flyer in play­ing two cham­pi­onship division teams first up, with six days be­tween the matches.

But af­ter beat­ing North Har­bour 42-22 away last week­end, Waikato seemed ei­ther un­able or un­will­ing to stick to their well­re­hearsed pat­tern and as a re­sult they never shook off the vis­i­tors and then blew a 27-22 lead three min­utes from the end.

‘‘ It’s gut­ting,’’ Waikato head coach Chris Gibbes said.

‘‘First game back on our home track, we had our ju­nior march-past to­day with all our young kids com­ing to watch us, along with our spon­sors and fans, and not stick­ing to the game plan has cost us the game.

‘‘I just think the way we went about it wasn’t very smart. so it’s quite dis­ap­point­ing.’’

Waikato drifted in and out of their struc­ture but were never able to stick with it for pro­longed pe­ri­ods.

Play­ing into the north­east­erly breeze in the first spell, they kept ball in hand but af­ter an early Ash Moeke penalty goal for North­land they were lucky not to be down by more af­ter four min­utes.

Sec­ond five Jack­son Wil­li­son just man­aged to an­kle-tap fly­ing North­land left wing Ma­teo Malupo, and then get up and grab him again and rob him of the ball to stop what seemed a cer­tain try.

In­stead, Waikato

put to­gether ev­ery­thing that is good about their game, sweep­ing down­field, forc­ing mul­ti­ple phases and ma­nip­u­lat­ing the de­fence for an over­lap try by flanker Matt Vant Leven that put the home side ahead 7-3.

But the story of the game was the in­abil­ity of ei­ther side to com­pletely stamp their author­ity on it and there were seven lead changes.

Soon af­ter, a Waikato break­out led by Wil­li­son and car­ried on by De­clan O’Donnell and Save Tokula turned to cus­tard with a spilt ball snapped up by daz­zling North­land full­back Faa­toina Au­ta­gavaia who then also fin­ished off the try 70 me­tres down field af­ter com­bin­ing with cen­tre Rene Ranger.

Waikato had the lead back by half­time, 17- 14, thanks to a well-ex­e­cuted li­ne­out drive bring­ing a try to hooker Mar­cel Cum­mings-Toone and the con­ver­sion from the boot of full­back Trent Re­nata.

But Moeke was also kick­ing ac­cu­rately for goal and the vis­i­tors were right in the match.

They were even more so two min­utes af­ter the break when Malupo kicked through and beat Re­nata to the touch­down for the try af­ter Waikato first five Sam Christie spilt a high ball on de­fence.

With North­land lead­ing 22- 20, Christie was 13 min­utes later sent to the sin bin for tack­ling a kickchaser with­out the ball af­ter a strong blind­side scrum break by half­back Samisoni Fisi­lau.

Waikato sur­vived the 10 min­utes with only 14 play­ers and Gibbes then went to the bench.

Five min­utes later it looked like the home side might have scored the win­ning try when young right wing O’Donnell scored a stun­ning touch­down, zoom­ing be­tween a prop and a wing and then veer­ing out, in and out again to dot down un­touched.

Re­nata’s con­ver­sion put Waikato ahead 27-22 but three min­utes from the end the home team’s dis­ci­pline let them down again.

North­land coach Adri­aan Ferris over-ruled his play­ers from the coach­ing box and in­sisted they kick to the cor­ner in­stead of for goal and it paid off.

North­land won a clean li­ne­out 5m out and drove over the line for stand­out flanker Dan Pryor to score the tie-up try and Moeke made no mis­take with the con­ver­sion from near the touch­line to clinch a fa­mous vic­tory.

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