Small er­rors see tight match go to Auck­land

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By EVAN PEG­DEN

Alex Bradley led from the front and scored two of Waikato’s three tries, but the skip­per would have traded both for a win against Auck­land at Eden Park in Auck­land on Satur­day.

No 8 Bradley thrived off the back of a dom­i­nant Waikato scrum to score his tries, one from a tight­head and one from a 5- me­tre pushover.

But some lax de­fence to give up some soft tries and a lack of sup­port for the ball car­rier proved costly in a 32-22 ITM Cup pre­mier­ship de­feat, Waikato’s sec­ond in a row.

‘‘It’s al­ways go­ing to be tough com­ing up here, play­ing Auck­land at Eden Park but the weather con­di­tions suited us and I thought our for­wards adapted to that well,’’ Bradley said.

‘‘We played a nice tight game, but per­haps the ex­e­cu­tion of small things wasn’t quite there.’’

He also took the blame for go­ing for vic­tory for two bonus points rather than set­tling for one to start with in the last 10 min­utes when he turned down the chance to kick for goal with Waikato hot on at­tack and trail­ing by 10 points.

‘‘I felt at that stage we were con­fi­dent, we were go­ing with the flow as far as we were dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion, we were mak­ing ground with good go­for­ward but again it was just ex­e­cu­tion of small things that let us down.’’

But Bradley was happy with the way Waikato played to their strengths in

the for­ward pack in the wet, windy con­di­tions.

Waikato dom­i­nated pos­ses­sion but found the hard- run­ning young Auck­land backs a hand­ful, par­tic­u­larly Charles Pi­u­tau, Ge­orge Moala, Malakai Fek­i­toa and Ben Lam, who are all un­der 21.

Waikato head coach Chris Gibbes felt his team had done a good job to be 18-12 at half­time af­ter play­ing into the wind.

They had also done what was re­quired for much of the sec­ond spell in putting the ball down the right end of the field.

‘‘But what we didn’t do was keep the score­board tick­ing over and I think that’s a les­son learned,’’ Gibbes said.

He put the high num­ber of turnovers and penal­ties at the break­downs down to in­ac­cu­racy from the ini­tial cleanout, as well as the work of the ball car­rier.

Waikato got a good sup­ply of li­ne­out ball from lock Chris Mid­dle­ton, while their scrum was to­tally dom­i­nant.

None of the lat­ter was lost when re­place­ment tight­head prop Ted Tau­roa came on for the injured Ben May and Vance El­liott came on at hooker.

Tau­roa was un­lucky there were no telling cam­era an­gles for a try he was con­fi­dent that he scored but which was not awarded af­ter ref­eree Richard Kelly con­sulted the tele­vi­sion match of­fi­cial.

Skip­per: Alex Bradley scored two tries against Auck­land at Eden Park on Satur­day.

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