Taranaki thump Waikato in record-breaking win
Taranaki have scored five vital premiership points after blowing away Waikato 46-17 in Hamilton tonight.
It is the amber and blacks' highest score and biggest win against the Mooloos.
Coming into the game on the back of a draw with Counties Manukau and a last-gasp loss to Hawke's Bay, the Naki left Waikato Stadium with the Ryan Wheeler Memorial Trophy after cantering to a comprehensive win.
It compounds Waikato's woes, after they were hammered 58-27 by Canterbury at home in their previous outing. Their first-round away win over Wellington is now paling into insignificance.
Taranaki were simply better across the park tonight.
They used the ball effectively, whereas Waikato kicked it away, they ran powerfully and with skill, and they tackled hard.
It was the Marty McKenzie show early on, as the first five-eighth racked up 22 points in the first half, as his younger brother Damian had to watch on from the Waikato bench before his introduction midway through the second half.
Early ill-discipline from Waikato handed the initiative to the visitors, and they lapped it up.
After penalty goals were traded, it just seemed a matter of time before Taranaki seized control.
Turning down a shot at goal, they were rewarded when surges over the gain line then got winger Waisake Naholo into a bit of space in midfield, and he powered his way over the line.
Soon after it was McKenzie who took the game by the scruff, dotting down twice in five minutes.
In his first effort he came back on the angle and crashed over the line, with Australian referee Damien Mitchelmore confirming there was no double movement after asking TMO Damian Botherway for assistance. And then McKenzie showed his wares from further out.
It was a brilliant solo effort, as he got the ball on his side of halfway and attacked the line, putting the fend on prop Josh Hohneck and going all the way.
Despite missing a simple penalty, McKenzie slotted one right on the break to give his side a commanding 27-3 lead.
In the first 40 minutes Waikato had had 55 per cent of possession, but glaringly had missed 14 missed tackles.
In a similar situation to their last outing, the Mooloos came out in the second half a different-looking team, and put on two quick converted tries to get within 10 points at 27-17.
After they turned the ball over on attack they were gifted an opportunity when centre Seta Tamanivalu dropped a simple pass, with the hosts spinning it right for Declan O'Donnell to finish well in the right corner.
Five minutes later fellow winger Joe Webber was able to dot down on his 21st birthday.
As a good driving maul got sent to ground, Tawera Kerr-Barlow - who had struggled to make any impact on his return from the All Blacks - gave a sensational round-the-back pass to his unmarked man in the corner.
But as soon as a comeback looked possible, the Naki stamped their mark once more.
They had their bonus point through winger Jackson Ormond, who was the recipient of a nice in-pass from Tamanivalu, who went on a superb scamper from halfway.
Then soon after the impressive Tamanivalu was rewarded with a try of his own after a Wharenui Hawera kick was charged-down and Tamanivalu crashed through some tired tacklers.
Rubbing salt into the wound, Naholo then crossed to ensure a history-making night for the province.
Waikato face a mighty quick turnaround with an away match against North Harbour on Saturday night, while Taranaki host Bay of Plenty on Sunday.
AT A GLANCE
Taranaki 46 (Waisake Naholo 2, Marty McKenzie 2, Jackson Ormond, Seta Tamanivalu tries; Marty McKenzie 4 con, 2 pen, Codey Rei con) Waikato 17 (Declan O'Donnell, Joe Webber tries; Wharenui Hawera 2 con, pen). HT: 27-3.