Umaga cracks the whip
Impatience and ill discipline are aspects of the Counties Manukau Steelers game coach Tana Umaga wants addressed before their ITM Cup match against Hawke's Bay at McLean Park in Napier on Friday.
Umaga identified the areas of concern in an otherwise stunning ITM Cup opener against Southland at ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe last Sunday. The bonus point 30-9 victory saw the Steelers run in four tries and keep their highly regarded visitors tryless.
It was a performance that stunned not only the Southland players but the 2000-odd Steelers' supporters who were at the game.
It was one of the best displays by a Steelers team in recent seasons.
The scrum held its own against the vaunted Southland pack. The backs threatened with every possession, the continuity was good and the defence was bruising and miserly.
This was significant because it was Umaga's first game in charge.
"It was a great start to our campaign," he says.
"I was very pleased with the way the boys went about their work.
"The one concern is the amount of time we spent in the opposition half without coming away with points."
Umaga believes a mix of impatience and ill discipline to be the cause and says it's something they will be addressing at training this week.
But it was the Steelers scrum that pleased him most.
"It's an area of the game where we want to gain the respect of our opponents and if they're not going to show us that respect then we will just take it. Obviously there is still work to do on our lineout, but a big thing about us is that we've been working to earn some respect.
"What we've noticed over the years is that it seems to be a forgone conclusion that our tight five won't stand up and some referees go into our games thinking that we're always the problem."
Kenyan Daniel Adongo was one of eight Steelers to impress on their debut.
The former Blue Bull got the nod from his coach who says the 1.96m lock delivered as expected.
"He brings great aggression and he likes to get in there and mix it up. Around the park he is such a physical specimen and he's also a good ball carrier and defensively he's another body in there that likes to hurt people and make them go backwards."
The other debutants were Suliasi Taufalele, Frank Halai, Mahonri Schwalger, Jimmy Tupou, Maama Vaipulu, Ray Laulala and Tony Pulu.
Hawke's Bay will be a different proposition for the Steelers.
They showed in their 36-29 loss to Auckland that they won't lie down.
They will be out to redeem themselves and take confidence from the fact that McLean Park hasn't been a good hunting ground for the Steelers.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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