Taranaki Ma¯ ori take Whanganui

Tuera Shield re­tained in tough game

Stratford Press - - News - By JARED SMITH

An out­num­bered and un­lucky Whanganui Ma¯ ori side could not hold off Taranaki Ma¯ ori’s sec­ond-half come­back in their

29-24 loss in the Cooks Gar­dens cur­tain-raiser game on Satur­day.

Try­ing to re­gain the 122-yearold Tuera Shield, Whanganui made the gam­ble while their ranks were bol­stered by mem­bers of the Steelform Wan­ganui squad, tak­ing first use of the sub­stan­tial wind when they had the ser­vices of first five Dane Whale and No 8 Tre­maine Gilbert.

Ethan Robin­son was the stand­out from 2nd V, lay­ing on two tries and goal kick­ing with

100 per cent ac­cu­racy from in front or ad­ja­cent to the goal posts as the home side led 21-10 at the half­time break.

How­ever, Whale and Gilbert then had to de­part to get ready to sit on the bench for the Heart­land Cham­pi­onship match and, by then, Whanganui had also lost cen­tre Jaye Flaws (an­kle) and his re­place­ment Te Ran­gi­tapu-McLeod (head knock) for the re­main­der of the game.

Hav­ing started with a smaller six-man bench, Whanganui’s play­ing re­sources were stretched and Taranaki had brought a big eight-man bench with them, in­clud­ing some strong for­wards to bust through the lighter home team pack on their try­line.

Whanganui de­fended grimly, on three oc­ca­sions hold­ing up Taranaki over the chalk, but ref­eree Ben Lourie fol­lowed up his first-half sin­bin­ning of tryscor­ing half­back Josh Fi­fita with flanker Jack­son Camp­bell then de­part­ing after cu­mu­la­tive team pro­fes­sional fouls, leav­ing fur­ther holes in the line.

Try­ing to stem the flow at 21-17, in an­other Robin­son raid lock Josh Lane all but scored, then Whanganui got a penalty for Robin­son for a seven-point lead, giv­ing his 14-man team a breather while Camp­bell waited to come back.

How­ever, both Lourie and his as­sis­tant ref­eree Mark Wil­son then missed Taranaki sec­ond five Te Kepa Grind­lay bla­tantly be­ing five steps off­side when he snatched a Robin­son pass to run back 40m un­der the posts. Taranaki swiftly worked back down into Whanganui’s try­line and after re­peated shunts, No 8 Rieran Young was driven over for what proved the match win­ner in the 72nd minute.

Whanganui had fi­nal chances to score in­side the last two min­utes, Lourie giv­ing them a stream of in­fringe­ment penal­ties but not a yel­low card, but fum­bled ball at the ruck cost them.

De­spite Whale be­ing able to kick for ter­ri­tory, Whanganui in­fring­ing while try­ing to stop Taranaki’s ball run­ners let the vis­i­tors get in po­si­tion, and from a scrum win, winger Liam Parker came across field to step through to score.

Whanganui replied through their own back­line spread, with Robin­son punch­ing through the hole and turn­ing the ball back in­side to Fi­fita, who dived un­der the posts in the tackle.

Whale com­bined with Flaws, who off­loaded above his tack­lers, with full­back Shel­don Pakinga Man­hire then step­ping through tack­lers to bring Whanganui back to the line.

Taranaki’s de­fend­ers rushed up on Whale’s out­side run­ners, so he threw the dummy and ca­su­ally piv­oted back in­side to waltz over be­side the posts.

Taranki cen­tre Mei­hana Grind­lay then com­bined with brother Te Kepa to send hooker Abe Haira charg­ing for the line, just stopped inches short by Robin­son, and Taranaki spread wide from the break­down with Young spin­ning through the last tack­ler to score.

A long pass by Robin­son set up winger Corey Carmichael for a crack at the cor­ner flag, and Whanganui spread back to the mid­dle from the ruck with Robin­son putting his brother Cade Robin­son through the hole to score un­der the posts.

How­ever, with Fi­fita’s sin­bin­ning after a se­ries of penal­ties, Whanganui could not get into po­si­tion for more points, be­ing short of the pre­req­ui­site half­time lead from a “15-point wind“.

Taranaki full­back Rick McKenna missed an early penalty at­tempt, with Whanganui now hav­ing to grind out from their own ter­ri­tory, and an­other Taranaki penalty saw Lourie march the home side a fur­ther 10m for back chat.

Al­though Whanganui de­fended their line from mul­ti­ple barge-over at­tempts, the loss of Camp­bell hurt their chances, and flanker Rawiri Nanasini went off a 5m scrum and got the ball down in the tackle of prop turned-flanker Te Uhi Hakaraia.

McKenna got the con­ver­sion from the side­line for 21-17 in the 62nd minute.

Whanganui could just about have wrapped the match up if Lane had scored, hav­ing to set­tle for three points, be­fore Te Kepa Grind­lay stole his try with winger Matiu Welch quickly drop-kick­ing the ex­tras, and from there a tired Whanganui could not hold off Young and his Taranaki pack any longer.

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