Ueta Tufuga heads to the tryline to extend Wai-Bush’s lead early in the second half. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Preseason ends on a positive note

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

WAIRARAPA-BUSH 34
WELLINGTON SAMOANS 20 

Farriers Wairarapa-Bush coach Mark Rutene is happy with the progress shown in the team’s final warm-up match before the Heartlands Championship.

“We were good in patches,” Rutene said.

“We took a little while to get started and we were a bit hesitant but then we tidied up our ruck ball and just got it out quicker, and we looked really good for the last 20 of the first half and started the second half well, but we just went off the boil a bit, and we turned over a bit of ball.

“There were some really good things out of it and some stuff we need to work on, and we were still trying some combinations out but we’re making progress.”

Wai-Bush were the better of the two teams in the first 40 minutes at Trust House Memorial Park, especially in the second quarter when tries to fullback Moomoo Falaniko, Joe Tako, who again had a barnstorming game at No 8, and lock Vesi Luatua, gave the home side a handy 22-6 buffer at the break.

Centre Ueta Tufuga crossed soon after the restart for a converted try, and it looked like the green and reds would run away with the game, but the Samoans fought back with two tries to close the gap to nine points with 10 minutes to play.

Replacement lock Matt Masoe barged over in a lineout drive to seal Wai-Bush’s first win of the season, in what was a solid workout before the Heartland Championship starts on Saturday with a home game against West Coast.

Rutene was satisfied with some of the running rugby produced, with midfielders Tafa Tafa and Ueta Tufuga, wing Tristan Flutey, and Falaniko particularly impressive in the first half, while wing Soli Malatai stood out in the second spell.

“We’ve got some really exciting backs, and I think our backline could be quite a weapon this year, hopefully.”

Another to impress was halfback Isaac Bracewell when he came on for the second quarter. His speed of pass created space for the backs, with four of the five tries scored while he was on the field.

The former Wairarapa College student is now based in Wellington, and Rutene is keen for him to stay with the team as the fifth player of origin.

“We can carry five imports, but we need to play him by the fifth game.

“He’s been impressive, he’s the fittest in the team, and I thought he was outstanding when he came on and he made a difference.”

Wai-Bush coach Mark Rutene, left, and assistant Brent Wilson look on during Saturday’s win over Wellington Samoans.

Rutene said there several concerning aspects that needed working on, with the misfunctioning lineout near the top of the list.

“We lost about three or four of our own lineouts in the first half and then we just weren’t competing with them, so we just need to tidy up our lineout ball a bit and make sure we’re winning all our ball and contesting on their ball too.”

Rutene said eliminating mistakes such as turnovers at the breakdown and in the tackle were other areas they would be working hard to tidy up.

“We’re making progress, not as fast I’d like, but it’s been a difficult preseason with so many guys in and out.”

BRIEF SCORE

Wairarapa-Bush 34 [Moomoo Falaniko, Joe Tako, Vesi Luatua, Ueta Tufuga, Matt Masoe tries; Sam Morison pen, 2 cons; Tipene Haira con] Wellington Samoans 20 [Ben Tuiatua, Jordan Aquia tries; PJ Iosefo 3 pens, con] HT 22-6.



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