By Gary Caffell
The Wairarapa-Bush development squad rugby team scored a gutsy 29-15 win over their more favoured Wanganui counterparts at Memorial Park, Masterton, on Saturday.
The home team called the tune through most of the first half and led comfortably 21-5 at the break, but Wanganui came out firing in the second half and quickly reduced the leeway to 21-15.
From that point on it was pretty much an arm wrestle with Wanganui striving hard to maintain the momentum and Wairarapa-Bush being equally determined to keep them at bay.
The tenacity of the home team’s defence through this period was particularly noteworthy and they were rewarded with a late flourish with saw them land a penalty and then score a try almost on fulltime to secure what, in the end, was a deserved victory.
A number of the Wairarapa-Bush players grabbed the opportunity to push their claims for promotion to the Heartland squad as the season progresses, none more so that flanker Blake Knight who covered a huge amount of territory on attack and defence, and was both constructive and destructive in his approach.
Lock Lachie McFadzean was a regular winner of lineout ball and was never far from the centre of the action in general play.
Similar sentiments could be expressed for his middle row partner, Regan Pope.
No.8 Joe Feast and prop Hayden Kerr were other forwards to shine.
There was no more lethal attacker on the field than wing/fullback Nick Olson who starred in several jinking runs.
Seldom was he halted by the first tackle. Halfback Daryl Pickering gave a quick and accurate service, midfielder Mana Ngaau was all strength and purpose and both Tipi Haira and Kingi Kaiwai impressed with their composure under pressure.