Johan van Vliet scores. PHOTOS/KYLIE EVANS
Farriers Wairarapa-Bush’s 47-24 victory over Horowhenua-Kapiti at Carterton on Saturday has set up a winner-takes-all match against Whanganui for the Bruce Steel Memorial Cup.
The win was Wai-Bush’s fourth in a row and retains their unbeaten record in the shortened representative season.
Tries to fullback Tafa Tafa, flanker Johan van Vliet, and three penalties to Sam Morison gave the home side a 21-19 lead at the end of a sometimes scrappy first half.
Wai-Bush clicked into gear in the second half against a tiring Horowhenua-Kapiti side and added tries to prop Lewis Bush, replacement No 8 Joe Tako, blindside flanker Tavita Isaac, and prop Tupou Lea’aemanu.
Coach Joe Harwood was satisfied with the result in the end.
“The boys worked really hard and once we got some continuity going, we scored some nice tries,” he said.
“But it was a difficult game to play in and a hard watch at times but I’m happy with the final result.”
Harwood said poor ball retention, especially in the first half, kept the visitors in the game.
“We gave away too much ball, particularly out wide in the contact areas and we’ve got to work on that front-foot ball.”
“We had a talk at halftime about getting a bit more aggressive and lower over the ball just so that we could clear the ball from the rucks a bit quicker, because they were allowed to slow down the ball and they were doing it well.”
“There were periods in the game we let ourselves down at times, but what I do like about this team is that they continuously learn, and even when they’re up against it they’re still putting their hand up and having a crack and getting stuck in.”
There are injury concerns after the game. Captain and No 8 Kirk Tufuga injured a knee halfway through the first half, and Tafa came off with a recurrence of his hamstring injury.
Centre Teihana Brown, who had an outstanding first half, was also replaced at the break with tightness in the hamstring which had sidelined him for the previous two games.
Harwood was already looking forward to taking on Whanganui in the river city in the championship decider on Saturday.
“They’re pretty much the benchmark of the Heartland competition, and they narrowly went down on Saturday against King Country, so they will be pretty disappointed in that result and pretty keen to have a crack at us knowing that we beat them last year.”
Farriers Wairarapa-Bush 47 [Tafa Tafa, Johan van Vliet, Lewis Bush, Joe Tako, Tavita Isaac, Tupou Lea’aemanu tries; Sam Morison 3 pens, 4 cons] Horowhenua-Kapiti 24, HT 21-19.