Jeramiah Mapusua, with ball, had another strong game until forced from the field with a dislocated kneecap. Henry Wilson, right, and Inia Katia are in support. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

Wairarapa-Bush 19
West Coast 18

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Moomoo Falaniko kept his cool and slotted a long-range penalty with two minutes left on the clock to give Farriers Wairarapa-Bush their first win of the Heartland Championship on Saturday.

The game at Trust House Memorial Park was a drab, mistake- and penalty-ridden affair, which never reached any great heights. The home side took a 16-0 lead after 29 minutes and looked like they would run away with the game, such was their dominance, but then the basic schoolboy errors crept in, and West Coast clawed their way back to lead 18-16 after 67 minutes.

When it looked like the visitors, who tried every trick in the book to slow down play, including a kicker retying his bootlaces before kicking for touch, had done enough to hold on for the win, loose forward Sam Gammie earned a crucial breakdown penalty for the home team on halfway in centrefield.

Up stepped Falaniko, who is renowned for his ability to kick long-range goals, and he was cool, calm, and collected, and spot on with his accuracy as the ball sailed between the uprights.

His inconsistency was evident though with time up when he missed a kick from 25m from almost in front.

The day didn’t start well for Wai-Bush with fullback Tafa Tafa stuck in Wellington because the Remutaka Hill Road was closed after a fatal crash. That forced a reshuffle with regular first-five Sam Morison dropping back to fullback, Tipene Haira moving in one position to first-five, and Inia Katia slotting into second-five.

Lewis Bush dives over for the first try in the tackle of Jarrod Ferguson.

The disruption wasn’t evident though as the home side dominated possession and territory, scoring two tries, the first from a barnstorming run by workaholic prop Lewis Bush, who charged 10 metres down the sideline with a defender hanging off him.

Lock Vesi Luatua added the second from a lineout drive, before two penalties to Haira extended the lead to 16-0.

But then it went pear-shaped for the green and reds, and West Coast began to gain a share of possession and territory and took advantage of an increasing number of home side errors, culminating in a try to flanker Lewis Jackman and a 16-7 halftime scoreline.

The sinbinning of centre Ueta Tufuga for a deliberate knockdown, and the loss of rugged flanker and captain Johan van Vliet, didn’t help Wai-Bush’s chances, but they were their own worst enemy, committing basic error after basic error.

Penalties to Jacob Lowe and a try to halfback Jarrod Ferguson gave West Coast the lead, although Wai-Bush were lucky they weren’t further behind after fullback Anthony Tailua looked to have scored only to be called back for a forward pass.

Wai-Bush did finally lift their effort, and pushed for the winner, which finally came from the boot of Falaniko.

In the end Wai-Bush coach Mark Rutene was just pleased to get the first win of the championship.

“We started really well and in the first 20 minutes I thought we were playing pretty good rugby and then we went to sleep and didn’t really wake up until the last five or 10 minutes.”

Rutene said there were too many fundamental errors like not catching kick-offs, dropping simple passes, dropping the ball at lineouts, and not making touch-finders from penalty kicks.

“But we got the win and I’d rather wake up with an ugly win than a pretty loss.”

One of the few to enhance their reputation was Bush, who again played the full 80 minutes and was outstanding with his powerful running and work rate.

Not far behind was his propping colleague Jeramiah Mapusua, whose season came to an abrupt end after he dislocated his kneecap in a tackle.

His injury and the question marks over van Vliet, who strained a hamstring, has put further pressure on the depth of the squad, although there is good news with former All Black Zac Guildford expected to be fit for Saturday’s away game against King Country.

BRIEF SCORES

Wairarapa Bush 19 [Lewis Bush, Vesi Luatua tries; Tipene Haira 2 pen; Moomoo Falaniko pen] West Coast 18 [Lewis Jackman, Jarrod Ferguson tries; Jacob Lowe con, 2 pen]. HT: 16-7

POINTS TABLE

South Canterbury 25; Thames Valley 24; Whanganui 20; Horowhenua-Kapiti 18; Mid Canterbury, Poverty Bay 16; North Otago 15; East Coast 8; West Coast 7; Wairarapa-Bush 5; Buller, King Country 1.



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