Bay of Plenty send Waikato down

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Saturday, October 14, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

That allowed Auckland to breathe a sigh of relief having avoided the relegation fate.

Ultimately, Bay of Plenty could thank their livewire rearguard who turned on a stellar performance in the first half and if they can keep their side intact they will provide some hijinks in the Premiership next year.

Fullback Chase Tiatia, so often a firestarter for the side on attack, opened the scoring after 10 minutes, to build on good work with ball in hand by flanker Tom Franklin, lock Keepa Mewett, second five-eighths Terrence Hepetema and first five-eighths Mike Delany.

Then, in the 22nd minute, when right wing Monty Ioane fielded a box kick from Waikato halfback Harrison Levien, he immediately sighted wide open space on the left flank and headed for it. Then he linked with centre Lalakai Foketi who stepped his way through on the left flank to score.

Ioane was in the action again on the left flank when his strong run set up ball to be moved back right and Tiatia looked to have broken the line, only to slip over. However, he got the ball to Hepetama who scored.

Waikato were not without their own abilities with prop Atu Moli putting his weight and strength to advantage when featuring twice in scoring in the 13th minute from a ruck close to the line.

Then after the half-time hooter when Foketi had been sin-binned for what was regarded as a deliberate knock-down in a Waikato move out from the Bay of Plenty line, left wing Sevu Reece came into the line from the blindside, following his earlier break which carried the Bay into the red zone, to score.

Three minutes into the second half they made the most of a superb angle run by flanker Luke Jacobsen to set up a ruck in the goalmouth where centre Pita Ahki was able to pick up the ball from the base and run in under the goalposts to score.

Waikato got themselves in front when Ahki kicked a penalty goal but that was whittled back when Foketi returned and it was the loss of Ahki to a similar deliberate knockdown offence in the 58th minute that saw Bay of Plenty up the ante.

Pressure went on from the Bay scrum, especially after All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris came on as a substitute, and finally it was halfback Richard Judd working the scrum move and firing a long pass to Foketi which allowed the centre to bullock his way through the defence for the try.

Judd's replacement Luke Campbell found himself in the try-scoring action five minutes later in the 67th minute after Delany fielded a mid-field high ball from Waikato and linked with flanker Hugh Blake, wing Joe Webber and Foketi, who was tackled on the goal-line, and after one ruck Campbell ducked around the ruck to score.

Replacement forward Laghlan McWhannell kept Waikato in the hunt when after a penalty they drove to the line and McWhannell was able to get over for the try.

However, Bay of Plenty withstood the frenzied Waikato finish and were able to clear the ball to touch after the final hooter had sounded.

Scorers: Bay of Plenty 36 (Chase Tiatia, Terrence Hepetema, Lalakai Foketi 2, Luke Campbell tries; Mike Delany 4 con, pen) Waikato 32 (Atu Moli, Sevu Reece, Pita Ahki, Laghlan McWhannell, Loni Uhila tries; Ahki con, pen; Sevu Reece con;). HT: 19-12