Im­proved Bay fall just short against Har­bour

The Napier Mail - - YOUR HEALTH - CHRISTOPHER REIVE North Har­bour 33 Hawke’s Bay 30

North Har­bour have kept their hopes of a home semi­fi­nal alive with a hard-fought 33-30 Mitre 10 Cup win over Hawke’s Bay in Al­bany on Fri­day.

With a top-two fin­ish still within reach, Har­bour were made to work for their points at QBE Sta­dium in a match that hand no short­age of ex­cite­ment.

If the early mo­ments were any­thing to go by, Hawke’s Bay were in for a long night. How­ever, a well-worked move from a li­ne­out saw hooker Ash Dixon get the first try of the match. Ihaia West added the ex­tras and the Bay took a 7-3 lead af­ter nine min­utes.

Their lead lasted all of 10 min­utes when, af­ter a sus­tained pe­riod of pres­sure saw Hawke’s Bay con­cede a num­ber of penal­ties close to their line, loose for­ward Ha­pakuki Moala-Li­ava’a crashed over from the back of a scrum.

The ref­eree opted to award a penalty try as Hawke’s Bay col­lapsed the scrum.

Both sides looked to play some cre­ative run­ning rugby, but both added penal­ties be­fore Hawke’s Bay again found the lead though winger Cardiff Vaega, who fin­ished out wide af­ter Dixon broke the line to get his side close.

The match set­tled down a touch fol­low­ing the try as Hawke’s Bay took firm con­trol of the pro­ceed­ings to lead by four points at the break.

Look­ing to re­main in the hunt for a home semi­fi­nal, Har­bour stepped their game up again af­ter the break and were first to score af­ter a bril­liant in­di­vid­ual ef­fort by full­back Shaun Steven­son.

Bryn Gat­land added the ex­tras and from there Har­bour took the up­per hand - un­til prop Ja­son Long crashed over to put Hawke’s Bay back in front.

Look­ing for just their sec­ond win of the sea­son, Hawke’s Bay soon found them­selves a man up when a late tackle earned Ha­pakuki Moala-Li­ava’a 10 min­utes in the sin bin. West knocked over the en­su­ing penalty and the Bay took a seven point lead with 18 min­utes to play.

The vis­i­tors had a one-man ad­van­tage, but poor de­fence saw North Har­bour winger Matt Duffie waltz through their line and run about 30m to score un­der the posts. Gat­land con­verted and it was game on.

Both sides kicked penal­ties for the scores to be locked at 30-all with three min­utes to play and a short kick from Har­bour worked to per­fec­tion as they re­gained pos­ses­sions and earned a penalty for a Hawke’s Bay player hav­ing his hands in the ruck.

From right in front of the posts, Gat­land stepped up and se­cured the de­ci­sive three points to close out the win. (Penalty try, Shaun Steven­son, Matt Duffie tries; Bryn Gat­land 2 con, 4 pen) (Ash Dixon, Cardiff Vaega, Ja­son Long tries; Ihaia West 3 con, 3 pen).

HT: 13-17

PHIL WAL­TER/GETTY IMAGES

Hawke’s Bay’s Brad We­ber de­liv­ers the ball to his back­line.

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