Win puts Waikato in top four

But set pieces still need a lot of work

South Waikato News - - COMPETITION 2010 -

Waikato have spring­boarded into the top four of the na­tional pro­vin­cial rugby cham­pi­onship with their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive vic­tory and a re­turn to tryscor­ing form.

But their high-scor­ing 45-33 vic­tory over North­land in Whangarei, on Satur­day af­ter­noon also served to high­light some con­tin­u­ing weak­nesses in their game that head coach Chris Gibbes ad­mit­ted need­ing fix­ing if they were to be com­pet­i­tive with the top teams in the ITM Cup.

‘‘I thought parts of that per­for­mance were very good we’re pretty happy with some of the stuff out there but there were still a few ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly around our set-piece stuff, that we’ve got to get right,’’ Gibbes said.

‘‘We showed once we get good plat­form ball we can cause all sorts of trou­ble, so we’ve just got to keep work­ing hard on those ar­eas.’’

Gibbes said North­land had caused them prob­lems at kick off with some ‘‘ smart’’ vari­a­tions. ‘‘ Al­though we adapted, again we just needed to be a lit­tle bit bet­ter than we were.’’

The li­ne­out prob­lems came down to sev­eral fac­tors but com­mu­ni­ca­tion and throw­ing-in were key ones and it ap­pears they will be a big work-on for set­piece coach Greg Smith again this week.

‘‘We’ve duffed a cou­ple of li­ne­outs where the com­mu­ni­ca­tion wasn’t right and there’s a bit of ill-ex­e­cu­tion as well so it’s a com­bi­na­tion of those things the li­ne­out’s not trav­el­ling too well,’’ Gibbes said.

The pre­dicted fes­ti­val of run­ning rugby from two at­tack-minded teams play­ing in per­fect sunny af­ter­noon con­di­tions panned out to script with 10 tries be­ing scored and Waikato reg­is­ter­ing their bonus point with their fourth try in the 17th minute of the sec­ond half when one of the stars of the back­line, winger Henry Speight, fin­ished off a thrilling, sweep­ing counter-at­tack ini­ti­ated by flanker Jack Lam and hooker Vern Kamo.

‘‘ The boys were re­ally ex­cited be­cause it’s the first real gen­uine dry day we’ve had so it was just good for them to get out there and play footy and the na­ture of that game was al­ways go­ing to be open, at­tack­ing rugby.’’

CHARGE: Aled de Mal­manche fends off a North­land de­fender on Satur­day.

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