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Bay of Plenty demolish Mooloos

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The only unbeaten side in the premier division now has an eight-point lead over nearest rivals Wellington and Auckland after three games, with a home match against the former looming this weekend.

It was the style of Bay of Plenty's win that impressed most on a freezing night at Rotorua International Stadium.

They hussled and harried their opposites into nearly two dozen unforced errors and built pressure steadily, never giving their Chiefs partners a sniff.

Waikato made 10 changes from their last outing against Taranaki and Bay of Plenty nine but the home side showed no hangover from their short turnaround, after playing North Harbour on Saturday.

First-five Dan Waenga was one of the stars for the Steamers, kicking 16 points as they started strongly and never took the hammer off.

Only desperate Waikato defence stopped two dangerous Bay of Plenty surges in the first 10mins. First flanker Zac Hohneck made a turnover 3m from his own line after two big runs from Bay lock Culum Retallick took him close.

Then Waikato centre Jackson Willison made a made a try-saving tackle on Bay wing Ben Smith after a Jamie Nutbrown burst, leaped to his feet and turned the ball over in the tackle.

Waenga eventually slotted a penalty for the home side after 16mins, then featured heavily in their breakthrough play.

Waikato halfback Brendon Leonard kicked out on the full and from the lineout, Waenga burst through, fed centre Phil Burleigh who threw a lovely pass to wing Ben Smith. Smith drew Waikato's last tackler and sent fullback Toby Arnold in. Waenga then converted to make it 10-0.

Trent Renata scored Waikato's first points after 24mins with a 35m penalty but Waenga replied 5mins later with a 50m effort after a scrum infringement and again after 31mins to extend it to 16-3.

He only just missed yet another penalty right on the halftime whistle but didn't miss with another 50m effort 10mins into the second spell.

Another Waenga break nearly led to wing Lelia Masaga crossing, with only a desperate Jack Lam tackle in the corner halting him, but 5mins later Masaga burst through the midfield and created an overlap. Fast hands by Burleigh and Steve Kefu sent Arnold over for his second try.

Arnold nearly had a third 5mins later when Waenga again broke from halfway but the fullback unloaded to replacement flanker Sam Cane. Cane was tackled a metre short but replacement hooker John Pareanga barrelled over from the next phase.

Waenga missed the conversion but the match was effectively over at 29-3 - Toby Lynn eventually scored for Waikato after impetus from replacement halfback Malcolm Barnes but it barely even registered as a consolation.

Even a flurry of home changes couldn't stem the tide. Chris Noakes replaced Waenga and picked up immediately where the starting pivot had left off, while another Arnold incision paved their bonus point try when backup halfback Taniela Moa crossed.

Waikato's next match is against Tasman on Friday night in Hamilton, with coach Chris Gibbes needing major surgery to repair his ailing outfit.

Bay of Plenty 36
Tries: Arnold 2, Pareanga, Moa
Cons: Waenga, Noakes
Pens: Waenga 4

Waikato 8
Try: Lynn
Pen: Renata

HT: 16-3