Confidence gained in Bush demolition
A 60-24 win over Wairarapa Bush in rugby’s Heartland Championship put a smile on Mid Canterbury coach Craig Dunlea’s face on Saturday, but only for a while.
It was a good win, but Dunlea and co-coach James Jowsey know the hard work isn’t done yet, with arguably the most successful Heartland team in recent years, Wanganui, their next opponent.
After starting their 2017 campaign with a win over Poverty Bay, Mid Canterbury fell to consecutive losses to North Otago and South Canterbury, so Saturday’s win over Wairarapa Bush in Masterton gave them much needed confidence.
‘‘We left a few points out there too, we could have actually rattled it some more, but at the end of the day it was a good result and five points and you can’t ask for much more than that,’’ Dunlea said.
Dunlea said it was a team effort, but double-try scorers Willie McGoon and former onecap All Black Regan King were strong, as was Seta Koroitamana in his first start of the season.
‘‘We just limited our silly wee mistakes and then we finished things off when we got into a good position,’’ Dunlea said.
‘‘It was just good to see the boys enjoying it, they had a smile on their faces.’’
Dunlea said some of the nine tries Mid Canterbury scored started well within their own half, and they’d now look to build on that form and go into this weekend’s clash with Wanganui with confidence.
South Canterbury didn’t do their neighbours any favours on Saturday though, beating Wanganui 21-17, to go to the top of the table. It was one of two upsets in the round, with West Coast also beating Horowhenua-Kapiti.
Wanganui head to Ashburton this weekend hurting, but if Mid Canterbury are to earn themselves a place in the Meads Cup (top six), they can’t afford to lose any more games. After Wanganui, Mid Canterbury is away to Thames Valley, home to Buller, then away to King Country to finish the round robin.
‘‘Everyone is beating everyone at the moment which is good, but a couple of them have got East Coast, Poverty Bay and Wairarapa Bush in three of their last four games, so three of the bottom teams, which will help keep them around the top of the table,’’ Dunlea said.
‘‘If we want to get through to the top four, we need to win everything.’’
Mid Canterbury is five points off the top of the ladder, but only five points separate the top eight teams.
Meanwhile, Mid Canterbury A lost to South Canterbury Development 35-7, and the Canterbury Country seniors didn’t have such a good day either, losing to Otago Country 22-20 after the two sides were even at 8-all at half time.
It was Town v Country day, with Canterbury Country taking on Canterbury Metro across the grades, and the only Country side to win was Country Under-48kg, winning 27-12.
Mid Canterbury’s Jared Percival tries to break through the Wairarapa Bush defence in Masterton.