Magnificent Mooloos shine in Rotorua

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Friday, September 21, 2018    Getty Images

It has been quite the turnaround for Waikato after slumping to ten straight losses split between 2017 and 2018 before a big victory over Wellington in round four turned their fortunes around.


Since then, the Jono Gibbes-coached side has been simply unstoppable. The forward-effort has been at the forefront of their revival with the tight five completely dominant at set-piece time, the loose forward combination ravenous at the breakdown and every member of the pack relentless with ball in hand and on defence.

It was the forwards who laid the platform in Rotorua again as the Mooloos ran out to a 0-21 lead after 30 minutes.

Lock James Tucker was in the thick of all the action and got on the score board in the 10th minute when he crossed from close range after a period of pressure from the Waikato pack.

Not long after hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho went over from a text book line out drive to give Waikato the early advantage.

Tucker was back in on the action in the 30th minute with a great bust up the middle and perfectly weighted ball to put openside flanker Mitch Jacobsen over.

Bay of Plenty gave Waikato a taste of their own medicine late in the first half with a well-worked forward try to Hugh Blake to make it 7-21 at the break.

The Steamers needed to continue the momentum in the second half but suffered a horror start when Mitch Jacobsen charged down a Jason Robertson clearing kick for Quin Tupaea to score.

It was a big psychological blow for the Steamers and they never recovered. After replacement Baden Wardlaw was yellow carded for pulling down a line out drive in the 49th minute, Waikato struck instantly when Taukei’aho grabbed a double. It was Taukei’aho’s sixth try for the season and lifts the hooker to the top of the try-scoring ladder for the entire competition.

The game opened up in the final 20 minutes with both teams trading tries before the whistle was blown with Waikato leading 21-54.

Next up, Waikato have a Ranfurly Shield defence against Southland next Saturday while Bay of Plenty take on Manawatu in Rotorua on Thursday.

Duane Monkley Medal points:
3: James Tucker
2: Samisoni Taukei’aho
1: Fletcher Smith

Bay of Plenty 21 (Hugh Blake, Bailey Simonsson, Kane Leaupepe tries, Jason Robertson 3 con) Waikato 54 (James Tucker, Samisoni Taukei’aho 2, Mitch Jacobsen, Quinn Tupaea 2, Sekope Lopeti-Moli, Matthew Landsdown tries, Fletcher Smith 7 con)
HT: 7-21