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Lineout woes hurt Wai-Bush

Inia Katia, carrying the ball up against Horowhenua-Kapiti, scored Wai-Bush’s second try against Thames Valley. PHOTO/FILE

THAMES VALLEY 37
WAIRARAPA-BUSH 19

Farriers Wairarapa-Bush were made to pay for basic errors in their fourth straight loss of the Heartland Championship against Thames Valley on a very wet Boyd Park, Te Aroha on Saturday.

The main area of concern was inaccuracy at the lineout, particularly in the second half, when several in a row were lost, including one prime attacking opportunity five metres from the Thames Valley line.

Swamp Foxes’ astute first-five Todd Doolan took full advantage of the turnover ball with a superb tactical kicking performance in the sodden conditions, regularly driving Wai-Bush deep into their own territory. The Swamp Foxes then capitalised on the visitors’ lineout wobbles with two tries to put the game out of reach.

The ‘Green and Reds’ started the better, going out to a 12-0 lead in the first 10 minutes with tries to winger Tristan Flutey, who intercepted a loose pass to stroll over in the first two minutes, and the second to centre Inia Katia after a sustained period of forward pressure.

Aseri Waqa, with ball against Poverty Bay, had limited chances against Thames Valley.

The home side finally gained more possession and territory and were rewarded for their dominance after 28 minutes when flanker Ben Stephens scored wide out.

First-five Ben Brooking had the chance to extend Wai-Bush’s lead but missed a penalty from a handy position. He then capped a few minutes to forget when in a promising attacking move he threw an intercept pass, which resulted in a try to Zach Clarke and closed the gap to two points.

The home side weren’t done though and a try to hooker Zane Heath gave them a 15-12 halftime lead.

Wai-Bush again struck first in the second spell, with second-five Tafa Tafa swooping on a loose pass to dive over beside the posts. But then the wheels fell off, with simple schoolboy handling errors, and the shaky lineout, playing into the Swam Foxes’ hands.

Wai-Bush though had their chances to take one or two bonus points from the game, spending several minutes launching attack after attack close to the opposition line, but the home team’s defence proved a tough nut to crack.

Too often though the ball runner was isolated, there was a lack of cohesion among the players, and the inevitable error would come, allowing the Swamp Foxes to clear.

Standout performances for Wai-Bush were Tafa, who was again solid on defence and a strong ball runner, while fullback Aseri Waqa looked dangerous with his limited opportunities.

The return of loosehead prop Doug Juszczyk ensured a solid platform at scrum time, No 8 Jack Loader gained good front foot ball, and 37-year-old openside flanker Jared Hawkins was a powerful defender and a nuisance at the breakdown.

The loss has Wai-Bush rooted at the bottom of the Heartland Championship after four rounds, and probably needing to win all four remaining games to have any hope of making the Lochore Cup playoffs.

It doesn’t get any easier though, with defending Meads Cup champions and competition favourites South Canterbury at home this Saturday.

BRIEF SCORES

Thames Valley 37 [Zane Heath, Connor McVerry, Ben Stephens, Zach Clarke, Leroy Neets, Will Newbold tries, Todd Doolan 2 con 1 pen] Farriers Wairarapa-Bush 19 [Tristan Flutey, Inia Katia, Tafa Tafa tries, Ben Crooking con, Tipene Haira con] HT 15-12.

THAMES VALLEY 36
WAIRARAPA-BUSH 5

Having the bare XV hurt Wairarapa-Bush women in their 36-5 loss to Thames Valley in Te Aroha on Saturday.

Late withdrawals had the team travel north with the bare minimum number of players. Their cause wasn’t helped when they lost flanker Xanthe Somerville to injury in the second half forcing them to play with 14 players for the last 25 minutes.

Wai-Bush coach Scott Collins said that in the end, Thames Valley had 26 players and could roll out fresh players in the second half, and that was the difference.

Wai-Bush had the better of the play in the first half and opened the scoring with a try to first-five Lisa Te Moananui.

“We were well in it and we controlled the pace of the game,” Collins said.

“We started to struggle about the 60-minute mark, but we really stood up and took it to them.”

Wai-Bush next play King Country in Turangi this Saturday.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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