Win puts Waikato in top four
But set pieces still need a lot of work
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.