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Good test for understrength Wai-Bush squad

James Goodger in the lineout. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

BECKIE WILSON
[email protected]

Wairarapa-Bush coach Joe Harwood was content with his side’s performance despite a 14-57 loss to Hawke’s Bay Saracens in a pre-season match at Featherston on Monday.

There had been a handful of last-minute changes to his side and Harwood said it had been a test to see if his team were ready for the next step.

The first 20 minutes were promising with Wairarapa-Bush putting the first points on the board.

First five-eighth Tipene Haira scored and converted his own try.

“Then we just struggled to get our hands on the ball for the next 20 minutes, but at the start when we did have it, the boys got into it,” Harwood said.

Despite the Hawke’s Bay team proving a stronger side, leading 19-7 at halftime, Wairarapa-Bush “never gave in”.

Halfway through the second half, flanker Epeli Rayaqayaqa scored a try which was converted by Haira.

Skipper Kirk Tufuga led by example and was “very industrious”, Harwood said.

“But across the park guys like James Goodger, Max Tufuga and Robbie Anderson controlled things really well too.”

Fullback Inia Katia shone in defence, he said.

Harwood said going into the game, the team knew it was going to be more physical than what they had come up against before.

“When we had ball in hand, our shape was really good, we just needed to get the ball out a bit quicker.

“But there was certainly plenty of intent, it was just that physical battle against some bigger bodies, it’s hard phase after phase,” he said.

The Wairarapa-Bush squad for the Heartland Championship will be finalised in the coming weeks.

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