Taranaki conquer Bay
TARANAKI have broken a 44-year losing streak in Napier after they heaped more misery on Hawke’s Bay following a comfortable 48-17 Mitre 10 Cup win.
The win moved Taranaki up to second on the premiership table while Hawke’s Bay remain just a place off the foot of the championship table and appearing a forlorn hope of making the play-offs.
It was not as if Taranaki were at their best but it was more than enough to get past a Hawke’s Bay side that has won just once in 2017.
Contrast that to Taranaki who moved past North Harbour on the table as they get set for their busiest part of the season.
Overall it was simply a case of Taranaki’s scrum being too good, their attack being better and Hawke’s Bay’s discipline simply not meeting a required standard, much like their overall defence.
Earlier, both sides opted to turn down easy shots at goal in the first 10 minutes and both failed to take advantage of ideal attacking positions as mistakes and poor option taking countered their intent.
Taranaki looked to have crossed first through Marty McKenzie but the television match official came up with a correct ruling on a knock on.
The visitors continued to blow several clear try scoring chances through their own inability to take advantage of a dominant scrum, although they had an argument for a penalty try following a Hawke’s Bay infringement.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 25th minute after Hawke’s Bay tighthead Pouri Rakete-Stones was yellow carded for continued team infringements close to their line and Toa Halafihi scored following yet another scrum.
Taranaki then doubled their advantage when Marty McKenzie won a foot race following a charge down before Hawke’s Bay got back in the game with five minutes left of the first half through a Cardiff Vaega try before they were in again a minute later after Ihaia West showed his quick turn of foot following a poor kick chase.
It was arguably more than they deserved given they spent 30 minutes defending but highlighted Taranaki’s inability to turn their dominance into a decent quota of points.
Taranaki’s scrum dominance continued into the second half and Ricky Riccitelli, fronting his former province, made them pay following a McKenzie penalty when he fell over the line following a 5m lineout drive to extend their lead to 22-10.
Hawke’s Bay ill-discipline continued to hurt them as they struggled to get out of their half or get hold of the ball as Taranaki banked a bonus point try when referee Shane McDermott awarded a penalty try from another retreating scrum.
That appeared to signal the end of Hawke’s Bay’s resolve as Taranaki moved it up a gear to move ahead by 24 points before the home side did cross through replacement Jarvy Aoake.
It was a brief flirtation with optimism for the home fans because their defence was again exposed late. GETTY IMAGES
Taranaki No 8 Toa Halafihi charges past Hawkes Bay halfback Brad Weber last night.