Bush bounce back with win


They’ve turned it around from a hor­ror first round, but Far­ri­ers Wairarapa Bush coach Joe Har­wood knows there’s plenty more to come from Wairarapa Bush in the Heart­land Cham­pi­onship.

The team posted its first win of the sea­son, beat­ing strug­gling East Coast 36-10 in Master­ton on Satur­day.

Har­wood said the team had stepped up after a 79-7 thump­ing by Wan­ganui the week be­fore.

‘‘It was a big im­prove­ment from ev­ery­body, re­ally,’’ he said.

‘‘We man­aged to score a few, our set piece was very good and we dom­i­nated at scrum time.’’

Har­wood also pointed to an im­proved de­fen­sive dis­play, which only al­lowed in one East Coast try.

‘‘I’m re­ally pleased, it’s al­ways good to have a first win on the board.’’

The five tries to one vic­tory cer­tainly put the team back on track, although there were still a few shaky mo­ments.

At one point, East Coast came within seven points of steal­ing an up­set vic­tory. Har­wood ad­mit­ted his team had missed a few op­por­tu­ni­ties to make the win more com­fort­able.

‘‘We prob­a­bly didn’t con­vert all scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties,’’ he said.

‘‘We left plenty out on the field ... but it was still a big step up.’’

Stand­out play­ers in­cluded num­ber 8 Tavita Isaac, who scored on his Heart­land de­but, and work­horse cap­tain Ed­die Cranston.

Piri Weepu made his in­flu­ence felt, with the former All Black set­ting up at least one try and prov­ing key to an im­proved back­line per­for­mance.

It was the star re­cruit’s first un­in­ter­rupted game for the team, hav­ing left the field suf­fer­ing a sus­pected asthma at­tack the week be­fore. ‘‘Piri’s fan­tas­tic,’’ Har­wood said. ‘‘He has a fan­tas­tic knowl­edge of the game to share, won­der­ful vi­sion and an abil­ity to direct the boys around the park.’’

Next week’s chal­lenge, though, will be harder. Wairarapa Bush face King Coun­try at Te Kuiti on Satur­day, their first home game since home­town hero Colin Meads died.

Har­wood knows the oc­ca­sion will spark King Coun­try. ‘‘Oh, they’ll be fired up,’’ he said. With the teams sep­a­rated by just two places on the lad­der, it’ll doubt­less be a tough, phys­i­cal en­counter.

Piri Weepu had a strong game in the num­ber 9 jer­sey.

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