Ueta Tufuga bagged two tries in Wai-Bush’s win over Poverty Bay. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

Wai-Bush fight to the happy end

WAIRARAPA-BUSH 36

POVERTY BAY 31

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

A brilliant 60-metre individual try by Ueta Tufuga with three minutes to play sealed an important bonus point victory for Farriers Wairarapa-Bush over Poverty Bay.

The match at Trust House Memorial Park was in the balance with Wai-Bush leading 29-24 and just holding off a late Poverty Bay charge, when the big centre picked up a loose ball near his own 10m line, shrugged off a couple of tackles and sprinted to the line to ensure victory for the home side.

This was the classic game of two halves, with Wai-Bush having the better of the first half, going out to a 26-0 lead before Poverty Bay narrowed the lead to 26-7 with a try to Ethine Reeves right on halftime.

The tight forwards set the early platform for Wai-Bush, dominating the scrums, and controlling their own lineouts, having sorted out the woes of the previous two games.

That improvement was evident in the first try after 12 minutes.

A lineout drive started on their 10m line and ended 20m later when the Poverty Bay forwards illegally pulled it down.

That led to a further lineout 20m out from the tryline, which resulted in a brilliant rolling maul and a try to blindside flanker BJ Campbell.

A lineout was also the catalyst for the second try five minutes later. Instead of the lineout drive, a smartly worked blindside move had hooker Bruce Kauika-Petersen cleverly flick the ball inside for captain and No 8 Kirk Tufuga to score.

A decisive moment in the game came after 21 minutes when Poverty Bay centre Ethine Reeves was yellow carded for a deliberate knock down with Wai-Bush in a potential try scoring position.

One minute later, the home side made Poverty Bay sorry for their ill-discipline.

Prop Sam Gammie had a powerful game.

From a scrum in a handy attacking position a powerful surge from second-five Brock Price set up good second phase ball for Ueta Tufuga to run on to from depth to score under the posts.

Wai-Bush made their numerical advantage count again after 27 minutes.

Impressive flanker Johan van Vliet set up quick ball from an attacking lineout, elusive winger Tristan Flutey beat three defenders and fed first-five Tipene Haira, who dotted down under the posts, meaning the hosts had scored 14 points with Reeves in the sin bin.

Poverty Bay had looked the more dangerous when moving the ball through their backline, but handling errors let them down on several occasions. They also had a try disallowed for an obstruction.

The home team were dealt a blow just before the break with fullback Inia Katia limping off with what looked a serious knee injury.

Reeves did make up for his yellow card when he scored on halftime to give the visitors some hope.

Their confidence would’ve been further boosted two minutes after the restart, when hooker Rikki Terekia scored from a forward drive to make the score 26-14.

Wai-Bush’s lead was soon down to five points after fullback Beaudein Waaka strolled in with a simple move from a five-metre scrum.

Tim Priest and Kelvin Smith exchanged penalties, setting up a tense finish.

Then came Ueta Tufuga’s moment of brilliance and a 36-24 lead.

Time was up on the clock, but referee Nick Webster still found time to play and Poverty Bay earned a valuable two bonus points with substitute fullback Matt Raleigh scoring after 84 minutes.

Naturally Wai-Bush Joe Harwood was pleased with the outcome.

“We played some excellent footy at times, which we have all year, and we’ll take the five points, [it was] very disappointing to let them in for a couple of [bonus] points at the end there.”

Harwood was full of praise of the forward effort

“The lineout was a big improvement from the last couple of games, some great drives, the boys did 20m once, and then in the scrums I thought we very dominant and were probably unlucky not to get a few penalties there and it was great work from the boys up front.”

Harwood said he was frustrated with the drop off in defence which gave the dangerous Poverty Bay backs too much latitude at times.

“We were doing really well for long periods of time and defending really well then all of a sudden we just released that foot again, but at this level it’s pretty tight.”

The win moves the green and reds into a share of second place, fourth on points’ difference, and in a strong position to push for the Meads Cup semifinals.

It also had Wai-Bush take possession of the Jeremy David Memorial Trophy.

HEARTLAND RESULTS

[Home teams first]

Farriers Wairarapa-Bush 36 [Ueta Tufuga [2], BJ Campbell, Tipene Haira, Kirk Tufuga tries; Tim Priest pen, 4 cons; Poverty Bay 31 [Ethine Reeves, Rikki Terekia, Beaudein Waaka, Matt Rowley tries; Andrew Tauatevalu 2 con; Kelvin Smith con, pen; Waaka con] HT 26-7.

East Coast 12 King Country 27, Horowhenua-Kapiti 31 Buller 46, Mid Canterbury 13 South Canterbury 13, North Otago 22 Thames Valley 21, Wanganui 36 West Coast 18.

STANDINGS AFTER FOUR ROUNDS

North Otago 17; Buller, West Coast, Wairarapa-Bush 14; South Canterbury 13; King Country 12; Thames Valley 11; Mid Canterbury 9; Poverty Bay, Wanganui 8; Horowhenua-Kapiti 6; East Coast 1.

WHAT THE PLAYERS SAID

Two-try hero Ueta Tufuga on his brilliant match winning try

“The ball just sort of just popped up there, sort of scooped it up, saw a big hole, it was closing, but I thought I’d just try and pump the legs and see if I can get through and I did and just took off for the line.”

The centre said he was struggling early in the second half

“I was getting a bit lightheaded. I think the sun had a big part to play in it. I sort of said to the coach give me 10 minutes and I’ll come off, but they [Poverty Bay] started scoring, so I wanted to stay on and make something happen.”

He said fitness is playing a big part in the team’s run of form.

“Every training we’ve been going through our paces and doing a lot of fitness, and especially in games like this where we have to close it off, the boys can dig deep and use the fitness.”

Winger Tim Priest, who later moved into first-five

“It was bloody hot out there. We went in at halftime blowing a bit, but we knew we had to come out and be a force because we knew Poverty Bay would come out firing and they did make it tough for us.

“A bit like last week, we put pressure on ourselves, but the good thing is we came away with five points. We’re playing the first 40 well, but we just need to tidy up that second 40.

“I guess you can’t tell this from the stands, but there’s quite a stiff breeze out here and it was pretty hard to get out of our own half, but Poverty Bay played pretty well with that wind in the second half.”

Priest said the win was set up by the forwards

“The forwards set the platform for us really and gave us that front-foot ball. As long as we can keep doing that, we’ll keep putting points on the board.”

Captain Kirk Tufuga

“It was an ugly win. We haven’t put a performance out for 80 minutes yet, but to the boys’ credit, we kept fighting til the end there.

“I think every time they [Poverty Bay] got into our half, we let them in or let something slip with a missed tackle, but we held strong and told the boys to stay calm and relax.

“We’re not resting on our laurels. We’re trying to better than we were last week, and the boys are still working hard and those that have come in have stepped up.”

On his brother Ueta’s 60m try, he said,

“It’s just one of things eh.

“When the boys are a bit up and down, he just brings a lot of energy in defence and attack, you can’t ask anymore of him.”