Small errors see tight match go to Auckland
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.