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Hawke's Bay finds its best touches

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Saturday, September 25, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The win, only the second of the season for the Magpies, was built on a strong first 40 minutes by the home side who led 25-7 at half-time thanks to tries to Jason Shoemark, Ryan McLeod and Hika Elliot.

David Smith replied for the visitors in the first half but it was three tries in eight minutes in the final quarter of the match that gave Taranaki some hope after Zac Guildford had bagged a fourth try for Hawke's Bay early in the second spell.

In the end Taranaki, who had prop Michael Bent sent to the sinbin in the first half, had to settle for just a four-try bonus point when replacement pivot Beauden Barratt missed with a dropped goal attempt on the stroke of full-time that would have seen them finish within seven points.

Shoemark's try - on his 50th appearance for Hawke's Bay - was the result of some patient lead-up work after Kahn Fotuali'i, playing at pivot, then second five-eighth McLeod made good inroads through the Taranaki defence. The ball was spun wide to their captain and he went over in the corner.

McLeod quickly doubled their lead when he showed more of his power and strength to bulldoze his way over.

Richard Buckman added the conversion and two further penalties and the home side were 18-0 up with less than a quarter of the match gone.

Taranaki's evening got even worse when Bent was shown a yellow card for repeated time infringements at the breakdown.

While he was cooling his heels, Hawke's Bay continued to pile on the pressure as Taranaki coughed up yet more penalties.

The Magpies opted to take the line-outs and eventually Elliot, who produced another impressive all-round performance, was driven over and Buckman converted.

The home side's defence was finally tested and proved to be more than up to the task when Sinoti Sinoti and Guildford, playing at fullback, bundled Mahonri Schwalger out of play in the in-goal area as Taranaki finally enjoyed a period of decent possession.

The visitors got the breakthrough at the 30 minute mark but it took some individual brilliance from Smith to get them on the board as the winger stepped McLeod and stood up Guildford on his way to the line. Willie Ripia added the extras.

Normal service resumed after the break though as the Magpies bagged a bonus point with their fourth try of the match.

Another well-timed pass from Fotuali'i put Guildford in space and the young back ran a nice change of angle to score with Buckman again adding the extras.

Taranaki coach Colin Cooper turned to his bench in an attempt to kick-start his side and the introduction of Kurt Baker, Beauden Barratt and Samuela Vunisa for Scott Ireland, Ripia and Chris Walker did give the visitors greater direction.

The more direct approach with ball in hand saw them work their way into Hawke's Bay territory and their efforts were rewarded with two tries in as many minutes.

The first for substitute lock Kane Barrett, who finished off a set-piece move from the line-out immediately after being brought on to replace James Broadhurst.

The second went to Baker who stepped inside Buckman to go over in the corner.

Jayden Hayward then ensured the visitors of at least a bonus point when he dived over for Taranaki's fourth with nine minutes to go.

The visitors pressed hard right till the final whistle but when Beauden Barratt's dropped goal attempt sailed wide so did their hopes of a second bonus point.

Scorers were: Hawke's Bay 32 (Jason Shoemark, Ryan McLeod, Hika Elliot, Zac Guildford tries; Richard Buckman 3 con, 2 pen) Taranaki 24 (David Smith, Kane Barrett, Kurt Baker, Jayden Hayward tries; Willie Ripia con; Andre Taylor con). HT:25-7