The Toyota Wanganui Development XV made it two from two for their RDO Shield campaign but will want to focus on keeping the intensity up after Saturday’s 45-21 win over Horowhenua Kapiti at Spriggens Park.
With the Steelform Wanganui squad away in Greymouth, coach Jerome McCrea’s team was a little more make-shift with five props and no specialist hooker, while players moved positions throughout the backline just after halftime, including flanker Jack Kinder getting the rare chance to play halfback when Cameron Davies went off.
Wanganui had romped away to a big 33-7 halftime lead with the wind behind them after some great support play and offloads among the backs, while their opposition struggled to keep attacking possession as they dropped the ball several times inside Wanganui’s 22m.
The shuffling of players and their opposition not really fronting with much saw Wanganui ease the foot off the accelerator in the third quarter, and their still-game opposition ended up finishing the stronger with two converted tries.
It is the second game Wanganui Development had leaked points at the back end and although they had comfortable leads, McCrea will want to address that before they play away from home for the first time against Wairarapa Bush Development at Memorial Park.
In 2016, Wanganui Development lost to Wairarapa Bush down in Masterton, leading to the only time they have missed winning the RDO Shield since 2013.
“They scored some nice tries, but too many missed tackles and too light at the ruck. That will be the work-on’s this week,” said McCrea at fulltime.
“If we can just hold possession for longer periods, that’s when this team plays well.”
Lock Taione Ratu, back in his own jersey after last weekend’s sojourn with Wellington Maori Development, had a very strong match on attack and defence.
The game was also a chance to look at import No 8 Mike Tafili, raised in Counties Manukau and a former co-captain of Auckland B.
The 25-year-old has been making his way back from a broken arm after playing professionally in Japan for the Kubota Spears.
He scored a try for Wanganui, and looked like he could be a force once he regains full fitness.
It was a couple of big carries by Ratu and Tafili that set Wanganui on attack early and first-five Bronson Tumai, a late change to start the match, ran off the ruck and beat two tackles to score, with Nick Harding back at fullback for this game and adding the extras.
Another Tumai bust from inside his own half and Wanganui’s outside backs lining up and centre Josiah Bogileka got the pass to step the last defender and score.
Looking to play up tempo, Wanganui got a string of penalties and from a tap kick from 30m out, Bogileka just streaked away near the touchline for his double.
Wanganui then uncorked their best team try as winger Samu Kubunavanua streaked away down the far touchline, and when he was held up by two tacklers, just threw a basketball-style pass above the gathering maul around him.
Lock Jack Hodges and prop Te Uhi Hakaraia each took a hitup, and then flanker Matt Brown worked into a half gap and offloaded to second-five Troy Brown, who in turn got an arm free for prop Wiremu Cottrell to dive over.
Wanganui then went to sleep as Horowhenua-Kapiti second-five Teariki Peneha twisted through a soft defensive line off the ruck and set up first-five Simon Middleton to dive under the posts, converting his own try.
That set off a brief period of the visitors getting the better of territory and possession, but they flumbed their chances with dropped balls in the sight of the tryline, and then Wanganui counter-attacked as Tumai sent a nice delayed pass to Ratu, who flicked it out to Brown in space.
Brown sent Bogileka on his way and when he was hit by the last defender at the tryline, his estimable midfield partner was still backing up to get the pass back and cruise over.
Wanganui Development scored another two really nicely worked team tries early in the second half.
A long run by winger Patrick Hiscox saw Davies breakdown pass deflected by a defender, but Hodges had got there to save it.
Wanganui then spread back the other way and Brown had a couple of cracks, as he was not held in the tackle, and then Tafili picked up the ruck ball in one hand and ran to the posts.
The roll kept on as Ratu ran through a yarning hole and fed Bogileka, who ran on the angle to the tryline and when caught on the paint, he held the tackler off long enough for a flick pass for Kubunavanua to finally score after going close several times.
But then McCrea subbed off most of his leading ball-runners to give his bench an opportunity, and the game became more scrappy while Horowhenua Kapiti kept trying for consolation points with the wind behind them.
Finally, reserve forward Shanti Davis made a long burst from a scrum win, and the visitors got a tap penalty with No 8 Pita Marshall – a double sportsman who also plays alongside Whanganui Boxon men in the Manawatu Mustangs league team – finding the gap and dashing over beside the posts.
Wanganui tried to get a reply score but were now tired and lacking cohesion, as Horowhenua-Kapiti had the last say when Davis again broke the line from his inside his own half, feeding reserve back Tyler Syme, who bounced back up after Kubunavanua’s diving ankle tap to go on and score.
Wanganui Development XV 45 (J Bogileka 2, B Tumai, W Cottrell, T Brown, M Tafili, S Kubunvanua tries; N Harding 4 con; Tumai con)
bt Horowhenua Kapiti Development XV 21 (S Middleton, P Marshall, T Syme tries; Middleton 3 con). HT: 33-7.
By: Jared Smith, Jared Smith