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Tough final hit out for Wai-Bush

Wellington Samoans 19
Wairarapa-Bush 26
The perfect rehearsal going into the opening round of the Heartland Championship.

That was how Copthorne Wairarapa-Bush coach Reece Robinson viewed Saturday’s 26-19 win over a big, powerful Wellington Samoans side at Wainuiomata on Saturday.

Wai-Bush scored four tries to three and were pushed all the way by their physically imposing opponents, who provided exactly the type of game desired by Robinson, who was astonished by the size of the opposition.

“I couldn’t believe how big these guys were, and even their wingers were huge,” Robinson said.

Second-five Tafa Tafa braces for a big hit.

“Even though they had only three training runs together, they were pretty well-structured, they got away with a lot because of their size, and they were actually quite hard to defend at times, and it took two or three of us to stop them.

“Coming out on top was a great result. They scored a couple of tries late in the game, which closed the score up, but we were pleased with how we went.”

Wai-Bush held their own at scrum time, and the lineout was efficient; however, in open play, there wasn’t the continuity that was a hallmark of their big win over Manawatu Evergreens the previous weekend.

“At times, there were some uncanny mistakes we did, but that was just from good pressure from the Wellington Samoans and moving forward, we’ll be better off for it.

“The biggest thing for us is trusting our systems. We had a few guys shooting out of the line in defence, but it probably comes back to a lack of communication, so if we can tidy those up, we’ll be fine.

“On attack, we did pretty well. Just a couple of those final passes were off, and we blew three tries.”

Jack Eschenbach scores the first try against Wellington Samoans.

First-five Jack Eschenbach was the only major injury concern from the game, with damage to an AC joint injury that might have him sidelined for a while.

That could see former Hurricane Andre Taylor move into the pivot’s role, which would open the door for the elusive Fiula Tameilau to come into the midfield after playing on the wing, where Robinson felt his talents were wasted.

Wai-Bush kick off their Heartland campaign at home to Lochore Cup holders Ngati Porou East Coast on 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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