Hawke's Bay punish untidy Southland

Getty Images

Thursday, October 3, 2013    Getty Images

Hawke's Bay left Rugby Park with the advantage in the race for a home play-offs semi-final while Southland are not even assured of making the semi-finals.

Fullback Robbie Robinson had a horror night with his hands while first five-eighths Marty McKenzie's poor kick resulted in the vital try of the evening being scored by Hawke's Bay's impressive first five-eighths Ihaia West.

Compounding the situation was an off night in the goal-kicking department by halfback Scott Eade and an overall failure to retain possession or avoid passing mistakes.

By contrast Hawke's Bay enjoyed a dominance in the loose headed by the splendid Brendan O'Connor with great support from Mike Coman. Lock Mark Abbott was another who ranged effectively to keep a high level of pressure on the home team.

Early in the second half when Hawke's Bay had started their comeback from 6-15 down with a West penalty goal Robinson dropped a pass after a Bay kick ahead.

In the play that followed the Bay side moved the ball with good effect and continuity before the influence of second five-eighths Andrew Horrell took over and fed an in-pass to wing Zac Guildford who scored and West's conversion gave the Bay a 16-15 lead.

Lock Mark Abbott looked set to steal a vital blow when latching onto loose Southland ball to charge into wide open spaces and kick ahead. Only a poor bounce saved Southland. But follow-up work by wing Zac Guildford and outstanding flanker Brendon O'Connor kept the pressure on.

That brought reward when McKenzie's aimless mid-field kick was taken nicely by Guildford who fed replacement wing Penikolo Latu who hared downfield and passed out to West who showed his speed again in racing in for the try to take Hawke's Bay to a 23-15 lead.

Southland had overcome an indifferent first half at a lineout drive from a second penalty in the last minute of the half within five metres of Hawke's Bay's line. They took an 8-6 lead to the break after flanker John Hardie scored.

Then five minutes after the break a fine lineout take by Hale T Pole set the backs away and it was second five-eighths Willis Halaholo charged onto a ball from McKenzie and cutting back on the angle wrong-footed the defence to score a fine try.

Playing into the wind in the first half, Hawke's Bay enjoyed an advantage in possession and position but were unable to break the home defence.

Southland made an untidy start, fullback Robbie Robinson twice dropping the ball in promising situations. And Hawke's Bay almost had a 12th minute try after a fine sideline break and centring kick by wing Zac Guildford.

However, in the follow-up play, a try on the blindside was ruled out when the pass from Guildford to fullback Trinity Spooner-Naera was ruled forward.

Southland did open the scoring, in the 17th minute, when Eade kicked a penalty goal and while the touch judges were unable to make a call, referee Richard Kelly said from where he stood it was a goal. But Ihaia West replied two minutes later after a high tackle was ruled on match centurion, hooker David Hall.

West landed a second penalty goal four minutes from half-time after first five-eighths McKenzie was offside.


Southland 15 (John Hardie, Willis Halaholo tries; Scott Eade con,pen ) Hawke's Bay 23 (Zac Guildford, Ihaia West tries; Ihaia West 2 con, 3 pen ). HT: 8-6