Loss to Mid Canterbury ends chances
Only playing “fits and starts” on a wet day in Ashburton, against a team with a radar-like goal kicker, has sunk Steelform Wanganui’s hopes of a Meads Cup playoff appearance in 2014 after they never really got out of first gear in the 30-14 loss to Mid Canterbury on Saturday.
Halfway through the Pink Batts Heartland Championship competition and Wanganui stands with one win and no bonus points, a poor for-and-against record of -35 and ninth place on the table.
The visitors were only outscored two tries to one at the Ashburton Showgrounds, both five-pointers conceded as being somewhat opportunist.
First, flanker Gary Redmond pounced on the ball from a short lineout and speared through a gap, beating Wanganui fullback Josh Hamilton to score under the posts.
Then in the 67th minute, with Wanganui playing a man down while halfback Lindsay Horrocks was in the sin bin, Mid Canterbury kicked from halfway to the gap left at the back.
The ball stopped right at the tryline with Mid Canterbury’s Fijian winger Seta Koroitumana dragging off the defenders in a 50m foot race to claim it.
“He won it by a few metres from our guys,” said disappointed coach Jason Caskey.
Wanganui clawed back to within striking distance with a second-half try by Rema Sagote. Other than missing the corner conversion of Koroitumana’s try, former Chiefs player Murray Williams had the ball on a string.
The first five landed three penalties in each half, several from long distance.
“Mid Canterbury are far from that good. They were not so flash and if we had played to our ability we could have quite easily won the game,” said Caskey.
After a promising start, the Redmond try set Wanganui back on their heels and Williams quickly added another six points while Hamilton replied with a couple of three-pointers, but 16-6 already looked like a hurdle.
“We kept talking about not giving away any penalties, but every time we kicked off they’d be in our half and get a penalty,” said Caskey.
“[Williams] kicked pretty much everything on offer.”
The officiating of Otago referee James Doleman did them no favours.
Caskey said Horrocks had asked Doleman if the ball was clear from one ruck and when told it was, he dived through to tackle his opposite and received a yellow card.
“Whether they were right or wrong, some of the decisions were hard to understand,” said Caskey.
“[Horrocks] was pretty lost for words. How can you change your mind in two seconds?”
However, the biggest detriment was that once again, the team did not “turn up” with the necessary exuberance, with Caskey expected to again make changes this week in the hope he can get the right guys in the right spots to create a “change in attitude”.
“Our set piece was good. But it was only the last five minutes they tried to play a bit. Before that the effort wasn’t there.
“We want to encourage them to go out and play some rugby. Score some tries.
“They don’t seem to quite have a real desire – it should be exciting for them.”
If there is any hope for a recovery this season, at least the second half of the Heartland draw seems a little easier, with three of the four remaining opponents sitting below Wanganui on the table.
They will play East Coast at Cooks Gardens this weekend.
Mid Canterbury 30 (Seta Koroitumana, Gary Redmond tries; Murray Williams con, 6 pen) bt Wanganui 14 (Rema Sagote try; Josh Hamilton 3 pen).
By Jared Smith – WANGANUI CHRONICLE