Hawke's Bay defeat Manawatu handsomely
It was hard to reconcile that Hawke's Bay and Manawatu were in the same division after the 45-18 thrashing by the Magpies at McLean Park in Napier today.
Such was the supremacy of fellow Championship team Hawke's Bay it was fortunate for Manawatu an estimated 15 minutes of the game was lost to tedious scrum resets.
Hawke's Bay scored seven tries to two, a handsome dividend for the investment the Magpies have made in bringing in new players this season. There were seven newbies in the starting XV and two on the bench and it paid off in spades.
Among the new stars were lock Mark Abbott, No 8 Mark Atkins and Blues flanker Brendon O'Connor. The forwards outclassed Manawatu's, turned the ball over at will, had a clear edge in scrums and lineouts and gave the backs perfect ball.
Former All Black halfback Alby Mathewson swept out long passes to first-five Ihaia West well over the advantage line and the Manawatu defensive line couldn't cope with simple one-on-one tackles.
The Magpies scored four tries in the second half, the most alarming for the Turbos coming off the first play after the restart when former All Black wing Zac Guildford charged down a clearing kick by New Zealand under-20 first five-eighth Jade Te Rure and scored. It was game over then.
Hawke's Bay hadn't lost to Manawatu at Napier since 1955 but this was one of the poorest visiting efforts by a Manawatu side there in that time, with even their best players not firing. The Magpies more than got revenge for the past two round-robin losses to the Turbos.
No one saw it coming after five minutes; it was Hawke's Bay who were slightly rattled and Manawatu were two penalties to the good, only to then cede the rest of the first half to the Magpies.
Hawke's Bay could well have banked a four-try bonus point at the halfway mark and settled for three.
With players like Atkins busting through Manawatu tackles, Hawke's Bay made short work of crossing the tryline. They scored two tries in two minutes with Atkins involved in both.
The third came on 23 minutes when Crusaders wing Telus Veianu strolled in when again the Bay backs got outside their counterparts in green.
Aside from Hawke's Bay owning most of the ball, both halves were most notable for the huge delays in setting the scrums. It was not a good look for the experimental crouch, bind, set cadence.
If Hawke's Bay can keep producing such massive efforts, they will have Bay of Plenty worried next weekend.
- © Fairfax NZ News