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North Otago cut Bush down to size

North Otago 50
Wairarapa-Bush 3

Copthorne Wairarapa-Bush coach Reece Robinson wasn’t mincing his words after his side were outplayed by a big, strong North Otago in Oamaru on Saturday.

The “Old Golds” ran riot in their Heartland Championship clash, crossing for eight tries, and although Robinson conceded that the home team had played extremely well, they were helped by a disappointing effort from his troops.

“We just played very poorly at times, and a good team like North Otago, they capitalised on it and scored off that several times, which is disappointing,” Robinson said.

“We struggled to finish plays off. We did some really good work, but the final pass – if we pass and we catch it, we put players into space – but we knocked it on.

“Our ball retention was poor, and at times our carry was average, so these are things we’ve spoken about previously, and we need to make sure we’re better next week against Poverty Bay.”

The scoreline would suggest that North Otago had most of the possession, but Robinson reckoned it was about 60–40, and his team had plenty of opportunities to score but couldn’t finish because of poor execution.

Wai-Bush were reduced to 14 for 10 minutes of the second half when replacement prop Lewis Bush was yellow-carded for team repeat infringements. However, Robinson believed they played some of their best rugby then.

“The second half, especially later on, we actually played some good rugby even with 14 men, so it was just disappointing that we couldn’t finish on some of the set plays and come away with some points, but at the end of the day it’s a learning curve, and we’ve just got to take it on the
chin and move forward.

“We just have to be better. There are only eight round-robin games, and we’ve got to make sure that we make the most of them and come out of these games with some points.”

Ben Brooking scored Wai-Bush’s only points from a penalty.

In a game where most players had an off day, co-captain Sam Gammie stood out at lock, while loose forwards Epeli Rayaqayaqa and Jared Hawkins brought good energy off the bench.

Despite the heavy loss, Robinson remains buoyant about the team’s championship prospects.

“It’s still early days. As I mentioned to you a couple of weeks ago, I said we can win six out of the eight games, and one of those games that I felt we probably wouldn’t come away with the win was yesterday [Saturday], so we’re still right in contention for where we want to be at the end of the season.”

There was better news for the Wai-Bush women, who kicked off their Heartland campaign with a 46–12 win over East Coast in Napier. Look out for a full report in tomorrow’s edition.

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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