Mooloos get past Harbour
Waikato have confirmed their Air New Zealand Cup credentials with a 33 – 22 win over QB Insurance North Harbour at Waikato Stadium last night.
Waikato team did what was needed to put away the visiting Harbour who were both gallant and oddly passive at times. While the home team deservedly concluded with the four try bonus point win, it was a victory which could have been snatched away by the plucky Harbour.
The game opened with Waikato quickly driving deep into Harbour territory, and setting up an early try to the superb Waikato Captain Liam Messam out wide on
Harbour’s right. Though unconverted, Callum Bruce used his kicking boots well soon afterwards with two penalties. Before Harbour had begun to play they were down 11 – 0 and only 13 minutes had passed. Waikato had used the strong breeze at their backs well and their forwards were achieving the kind of clean out at ruck time which has been too infrequent a characteristic of
Harbour in 2009.
Finally after 20 minutes Vili Ma’afu and James King featured with ball in hand as Harbour put some phases together, earning field position and a penalty which Harris converted from wide out. The Harbour forwards worked their team back into the game, gaining more breakdown possession and field position, but still headed to half time down 14 – 3 on the scoreboard and losing the breakdowns at the rate of 2 to 1. The stats showed
Harbour had missed too many tackles, mainly out wide, but excellent defensive systems had kept
Waikato at bay when it looked like they would storm away after the opening salvo. Matt France was replaced at halfback by Nalu Tuigamala at half time.
The second half began well for
Harbour. With mounting pressure on their line from a dominant North Harbour scrum, Waikato were opened up by Rudi Wulf’s kick return and off load to the fast stepping Jack McPhee. McPhee’s pass to Harris was moved on to George Pisi who stepped inside Stephen Donald to score.
At 14 – 8 to the Mooloo men, the game had come to life.
Waikato snapped back with two quick tries which utilised overlaps on either wing. The
Harbour’s left was achieved from a breakdown in the Harbour leftt wing defence leaving a wide channel for Mikkleson to speed around the diving George Pisi. The second arose down the Harbour right wing with Hayden Abercrombie down injured after a solid game.
Harbour did not surrender, instead coming back with tries to its young wingers. Ken Pisi picked up a dropped Anesi ball and scooted away for his, and Nafi Tuitavake accurately finished off a tap penalty move from 5 metres out from the
Waikato line. With kicks these bought the score to 28 - 22 to the home team.
Waikato got back the field position and Stephen Donald attempted an audacious cross field kick which, depending on the bounce, could have been a try maker or a try conceder. It was
Waikato’s night and Wulf was defeated by a wicked bounce and Speight got the simplest of tries. With the conversion,
Waikato closed out the match 33 – 22 and for now, fourth place on the Air New Zealand Cup ladder.
Best on Ground:
QBE Insurance North Harbour: Vili Ma’afu; Rudi Wulf; James King; Ben Afeaki; Mike Harris; Jack McPhee
Waikato: Liam Messam; Nick White; Dwayne Sweeney; Toby Lynn; Callum Bruce; Kevin O’Neill