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Wai-Bush grab surprise win

Wairarapa-Bush 46
East Coast 12

Wairarapa-Bush took a big step into the unknown but came away smiling after their convincing win over Ngati Porou East Coast Hamoterangi at Napier on Sunday.

Adding uncertainty to the side heading into their first North Island Heartland Women’s Championship game were unexpected changes brought about because of the late withdrawal of several players. That saw regular fullback Kate Donald move into the unaccustomed halfback position and usual No. 8 Paige Walker step into prop, with both players scoring five tries between them and impressing co-coach Scott Collins.

“Kate Donald hadn’t played there before, but her rugby IQ helped because she was able to look up and see what was going on, she made some dashing runs, and she gave pretty good service with the pass as well, and we could get a little bit wider with our first receiver, and she scored a hat-trick,” Collins said.

Walker also got on the scoresheet with two tries, the first from a close ruck and the other a 50m run. Sam Marriott, with a long-range solo effort, Xanthe Somerville, and Lisa Te Moananui also dotted down for the winners.

Collins went into the game not knowing what East Coast would bring to the game because Wai-Bush hadn’t played them last year, although he expected to come up against a big forward pack and a simple game plan.

“We planned to play around the edges and try and not to get in the physical battle until we knew what they’ve got, and that worked for us, and we scored a few tries by stretching their defence.

“We were pleasantly surprised. We got a few tries towards the end when they got tired, so we were able to capitalise, but the scoreline doesn’t really reflect the game itself. It was a pretty hard battle.”

Collins felt that the set pieces were pretty messy from both sides, but Wai-Bush had the better of the scrums, with their shorter props able to get lower than their opponents.

Overall though, he was satisfied with the outcome, given the disruptive buildup with the late withdrawals.

Midfielder Staci Walsh was the only serious casualty and is out for the season with a fractured patella.

Wai-Bush now have three consecutive games at home, starting with Whanganui at 11.30am on Saturday.

The North Island Championships comprises five round-robin games culminating in the finals weekend in September in Taupo where the top two teams will play for the championship.

Wairarapa Bush 46 [P Walker [2], S Marriott, X Somerville, L Te Moananui tries. K Donald 3 tries 2 con, M Johnson con] East Coast 12 [C Babbington-Ngerengere try, A Campbell try, con] HT 29-5.

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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