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Missed Tackles Cost Manawatu Dearly

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Missed Tackles Cost Manawatu Dearly

Wellington, Aug 8 NZPA - Too many missed tackles cost Manawatu dearly in their Air NZ Cup provincial rugby match in Hamilton today as Waikato eased away to a 30-22 win.

Ahead 12-7 at halftime, Waikato took some time to hit full speed but, once they did, Manawatu were increasingly on the back foot, their defensive screen stretched and too often broken.

Buoyed by their second-half rally in beating Counties-Manukau 36-31 last week, Manawatu started solidly in calm, sunny conditions today.

With first five-eighth Aaron Cruden directing play intelligently, they looked confident early on but it was the home team who scored first when captain Liam Messam crossed after 25 minutes.

Manawatu did not take long to reply, capitalising when an aimless Brendan Leonard chip ahead gave wing Johnny Leota some unexpected possession.

Leota's speed and footwork created extra space and his pass inside found Lote Raikabula, who touched down.

Cruden's conversion gave Manawatu a 7-5 lead after 28min, but Waikato bounced back 5min later after an attacking scrum 5m out and a snappy pass from Leonard found Sione Lauaki, who barrelled over from close range.

Callum Bruce added the conversion to secure a far-from-convincing 12-7 lead at halftime.

Waikato started strongly in the second spell as Bruce finally found his kicking boots, nailing his first penalty in four attempts to extend Waikato's lead to eight points only for Cruden to reply in kind 3min later.

Ahead 15-10, Waikato were starting to dominate with strong work at scrumtime and at the breakdown.

Sharp work from Leonard at the base of the scrum 10m out saw first five-eighth Sam Christie with plenty of time and pace to scythe through some indecisive tackling and score between the goalposts.

Bruce's conversion made it 22-10, and Waikato's dominance of territory and possession constantly kept Manawatu on the back foot.

The game opened up in the last 20min as Manawatu found some momentum, with both teams moving the ball at pace.

Waikato's defence was stretched constantly as Manawatu controlled possession at the break down, and inevitably it was Cruden who finally broke through to score.

The conversion meant Waikato again looked under threat at 22-17 ahead but a brilliant Soseni Anesi individual effort restored the margin after he latched on to a misplaced Doug Tietjens chip kick and ran 40m to score.

Replacement first five-eighth Isaac Thompson crossed in the closing minutes to give Manawatu a chance at the bonus point, but he missed the conversion.

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