Halfback Daryl Pickering spies a gap in the Saracens’ defence. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Wairarapa-Bush 19
Hawke’s Bay Saracens 62

Farriers Wairarapa-Bush coach Mark Rutene was satisfied with the first half but disappointed with the second 45 minutes of his team’s performance in their traditional Queen’s Birthday fixture against Hawke’s Bay Saracens at Trust House Memorial Park on Monday.

Wai-Bush were well in the hunt for an upset, trailing 19-24 at the break, with two tries to prop Tupou Lea’aemanu and openside flanker Johan van Vliet.

Wai-Bush had a 7-5 lead after 13 minutes, but three tries to Saracens had them take a 24-7 lead before two Wai-Bush tries in the last two minutes of the half closed the gap to five points.

The second spell was a different story as the visitors used their entire 31-man squad. The fresh legs told, and Saracens took advantage of a tiring defence to run in a further six tries for a final score of 62-19.

“I was pleased with the effort in the first half, but in the second, we just lost a bit of shape with a few substitutions,” said Rutene.

“They had fresh legs, and we just left too many holes. We didn’t move up on ‘D’ and got caught out. We sat back on our heels and just let them come to us, and in the third and fourth quarters, they got over the gain-line and started offloading, and the score blew away.”

Lewis Bush had a strong game at set piece and in the loose.

Rutene was pleased with the forward effort, with props Lea’aemanu and Lewis Bush, hooker Henry Wilson, and co-captain van Vliet standing out. Substitute loosie BJ Campbell, halfback Daryl Pickering, and Sam Morison also impressed the coach.

“The backs didn’t get much of an opportunity – it was more in the forwards in the first half.”

Rutene said that he and assistant coaches Brent Wilson and Nathan Riwai-Couch would let club rugby run its course before picking their Heartland squad, probably after the semifinals.

“We’ll be talking to probably 30 guys over the next few weeks and give them a heads-up that they’re in the mix so they can start preparing.”

Rutene identified No 8, blindside flanker, and the middle row as areas of concern.

“We have plenty of props, which is good for a change, we have plenty of openside loosies, but eight and six we’re a bit short, so we’re looking for some big ball runners for the middle-back row, and we’re probably okay in the backs.”

Wai-Bush will play Wellington Centurions, then Poverty Bay for the Jeremy David Memorial Trophy, and Wellington Samoans in warm-up fixtures before the Heartland Championship kicks off at home against West Coast on August 21.



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