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Harwood calls time after tough loss

Fullback Tafa Tafa kicks for territory in Saturday’s away match against Whanganui. PHOTO/LEWIS GARDNER

Harwood’s reign ends on losing note


Whanganui 29
Wairarapa-Bush 8

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A 29-8 loss to Whanganui wasn’t the way Farriers Wairarapa-Bush coach Joe Harwood wanted to finish the season or bring the curtain down on his representative coaching career.

Harwood confirmed after the game that it was his last after four years in charge.

In that time Harwood has taken Wai-Bush to the 2018 Lochore Cup final against Horowhenua-Kapiti [lost 23-26], and his crowning glory, an unlucky 25-27 loss to eventual champions North Otago in the 2019 Meads Cup semifinal.

He said it was time to spend some more time with his family now.

Teihana Brown.

Harwood was keen to go out on a high note by retaining the Bruce Steele Memorial Cup against Whanganui at Cooks Gardens, a venue where Wai-Bush have not won since the 2006 Meads Cup final.

But they were beaten by a better team on the day, he said.

“Unfortunately for us we didn’t put in the performance we wanted,” he said.

“We weren’t quite up to speed, and we didn’t quite take some opportunities we should have.”

Wai-Bush dominated the early stages, but it was the home side that struck first with two converted tries – the second against the run of play when centre Josaia Bogilekaa swooped on a loose pass inside their own 22.

Bogilekaa had the simple task of sending winger Vereniki Tikisolomone away to score under the crossbar.

A Sam Morison penalty and try to veteran blindside flanker Tavita Isaac narrowed the gap to 17-9 at halftime, but that was good as it got for the green and reds.

Wai-Bush started the second half strongly but could not breach the stubborn Whanganui defence, much to Harwood’s frustration.

“We had long periods of dominance at the start of the second half, but just again we went back to a bit of a narrow mindset instead of playing with a bit of width. We just weren’t clinical enough.

“The boys worked really hard, but we were a bit narrow in our attack, which was certainly not what we practised or what we wanted.”

Harwood said he was also baffled with some of the rulings against his team.

“We dominated them in the scrum, and I can’t understand why we got a penalised a couple of times there, because we were dominant, but Whanganui did a very good job of getting in the referee’s ear.”

Joe Harwood.

In the end, he was pretty gutted with the outcome.

“It would have been nice to end the season on a high note and get the win over those guys. It was always going to be difficult, but I was a bit disappointed with that performance.”

In confirming Harwood’s resignation as coach Wai-Bush chief executive officer Tony Hargood said the union was deeply indebted to him for his commitment and dedication to the role.

“Joe has achieved many outstanding results over the years. While coming within a whisker of making the Meads Cup final in 2019 was a disappointment, it was also a credit to the outstanding work that Joe, the coaching and management team had built up over the four-year period fostering a culture of high performance in the team.”


Whanganui 29 [Cade Robinson, Vereniki Tikisolomone, Craig Clare, Alekesio Vakarorogo tries; Clare pen, 3 con] Wairarapa-Bush 8 [Tavita Isaac try; Sam Morison pen]. HT 17-8.

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