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.