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Scrum wobbles hurt Wai-Bush

Horowhenua-Kapiti preparing to launch an attack from a scrum, against Wairarapa-Bush at Levin Domain on Saturday. PHOTO/KIRSTIE HILTON

RUGBY

JAKE BELESKI
[email protected]

It is hard to win any rugby match without at least gaining parity at the set piece, and Wairarapa-Bush found that out the hard way against Horowhenua-Kapiti at Levin Domain on Saturday.

Wairarapa-Bush may have had the upper hand when it came to lineouts, but the scrum went backwards at a rate of knots for most of their round five Heartland Championship clash.

The hosts eventually triumphed 37-21, after leading 27-16 at halftime, ensuring Wairarapa-Bush did not take any points from the match.

The two teams traded successful penalties early before Wairarapa-Bush prop Sam Gammie scored the first of his two tries to give his side a 10-3 lead.

Horowhenua-Kapiti struck back immediately to level the scores and added two further tries before the break, while Wairarapa-Bush managed two more penalties.

Gammie crossed for his second try early in the second half to close the gap to 27-21, and there was no further score until the 68th minute, when first five-eighth James So’oialo kicked a penalty to give Horowhenua-Kapiti a nine-point buffer.

Wairarapa-Bush had the chance to close the gap to two points with about 10 minutes remaining, but a knock-on while they were hot on attack saw the opportunity slip away.

Things only got worse for Wairarapa-Bush down the home stretch as replacement flanker Marcus Ale had to be stretchered off with a serious leg injury, and Horowhenua-Kapiti scored their fourth try with two minutes remaining.

Early reports suggested Ale suffered a dislocated kneecap.

Wairarapa-Bush coach Joe Harwood said a lack of patience at key times let his side down.

“I thought we dominated for most of the second half, but we didn’t show enough patience and take those moments when we should have.

“That was disappointing because we’re better than that.”

Gammie and No 8 Kirk Tufuga were standout performers with their strong carries, but there was little they could do in the face of the Horowhenua-Kapiti onslaught in the scrums.

In the backs, second five-eighth Mike Lealava’a looked assured in the midfield, while winger Soli Malatai was unable to back up his record-breaking five-try performance from last weekend, though he did make several surging runs with ball in hand.

Harwood said they could have no complaints with the final result, even though they were only a couple of near misses away from potentially snatching a win.

“We should have scored under the post in the second half but we didn’t, and that’s another learning for us.

“When we held the ball, we built pressure and looked good, but we have to trust in ourselves and work harder in those areas to win those important moments.”

Harwood was gutted for Ale, who had made an immediate impact with his physicality when he entered the match.

He said a decision on who would be brought in as his replacement would be made at training this week.

“We wish him all the best for his recovery — hopefully we’ll still see him around the player group.”

The result saw Wairarapa-Bush slip to seventh on the Heartland Championship ladder, and this week they will face a tough match against second-placed South Canterbury at Memorial Park in Masterton.

South Canterbury lost their first match to Wanganui, but since then have been in red-hot form in four consecutive wins.

Heartland results: Thames Valley 43 North Otago 21; West Coast 34 Buller 28; Poverty Bay 26 East Coast 19; Wanganui 36 King Country 19; South Canterbury 41 Mid Canterbury 10.

HOROWHENUA-KAPITI 37 [Timoci Serawalu 2, Kalim Kelemete, Joel Winterburn tries; James So’oialo 4 con, 3 pen] beat WAIRARAPA-BUSH 21 [Sam Gammie 2 tries, Glen Walters con, 3 pen].

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