Taranaki gain vital break over BOP
Saturday, September 21, 2013 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
The ball bounced favourably and sat up nicely for Baker to run it down and score his side's second try to set up a 21-3 lead with 30 minutes of the game left.
It proved a rare show of individual skill on a night when there was much that wasn't memorable.
Unfortunately for Bay of Plenty, the loss dooms them to the Championship next season.
Whereas Taranaki were able to pick up vital momentum in the first half, Bay of Plenty were unable to seize the initiative although veteran flanker Tanerau Latimer had a try disallowed due to an obstruction was ruled after the TMO was consulted to view video evidence.
It took 33 minutes for Taranaki to find spaces in the Bay of Plenty defence but it was enough to claim a 14-3 half-time lead at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.
Initially it was Isaia Tuifua, the bullocking second five-eighths, who punched through near the 10-metre line on attack. Patient support play saw Taranaki retain the ball and from a ruck in front of the posts, halfback Jamison Gibson-Park sniped around the side and found flanker Mitchell Crosswell right at hand. He took the ball and moved it on to No.8 Blade Thomson who crossed for a good try for the home side.
Andre Taylor had ensured his team built a handy lead with three penalty goals in reply to one from Bay first five-eighths Willie Ripia.
Tuifua had a big game and was a presence in the mid-field and rival Nick Evemy was on the hand of a fearsome tackle heading into the final quarter.
Both Taranaki halfbacks used, Gibson-Park and his substitute Chris Smylie made good use of the kick over the top of the pack and into the box to keep their side rolling ahead. Prop Carl Carmichael and lock James Broadhurst thrived as a result and were hard to stop, Carmichael with the ball in hand and Broadhurst in the lineouts.
First five-eighths Beaudein Waaka controlled the play well for his backline.
In the latter stages, as Taranaki camped in the Bay of Plenty half, heavier rain made handling even more difficult and scoring chances went begging for the home team.
Taranaki 21 (Blade Thomson, Kurt Baker tries; Andre Taylor con, 3 pen ) Bay of Plenty 3 (Willie Ripia pen).HT: 14-3
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