Waikato kick to victory in tryless encounter
Renata’s boot proves the difference as hosts edge BOP. Evan Pegden reports.
Waikato stopped the rot in the current season and scored their first national rugby premiership win over Bay of Plenty since 2010 in Hamilton last night.
The home team won the only tryless encounter of the ITM Cup this season to date with a 15-6 victory at Waikato Stadium where their defence proved the star of the night in front of a tiny crowd of just under 4000.
Waikato fullback Trent Renata kicked five out of seven penalty attempts to give his team the winning points and just their second win in the battle of the Kaimais since 2003.
Bay of Plenty headed under the stand for halftime trying to figure out how they could dominate 75 per cent of territory and be level with the home side on the scoreboard 6-6.
The visitors also had a handy possession advantage and a penalty count from a rather pedantic Bryce Lawrence that favoured them 9-4.
But first-five Nick McCashin missed three of five penalty attempts at goal before the Bay started kicking for the corners and trying to attack from 5m lineouts. A try chance also went begging when young halfback Josh Hall lost the ball as he bounced it down on the goal line, a fact spotted in the slow-motion replays by the TMO.
The Waikato defence was up to the mark, however, defending up to a dozen phases on their own line at one stage.
Renata got only two chances to kick for goal and he raised the flags with both to ensure Waikato stayed very much in the contest.
Chiefs winger Lelia Masaga and Australian second-five Mafi Kefu both made some powerful runs and always looked dangerous but the Bay were never quite able to breach the final line of defence.
Waikato battled to get into their attacking half but a couple of times when they did they also looked dangerous with young No8 Rory Grice getting through a lot of work and making some strong runs, while centre Save Tokula burst into life with a couple of strong breaks.
Young Waikato first-five Piers Francis was yellow-carded for Waikato's persistent infringing four minutes from the break.
Just before Francis returned to the field in the second spell Waikato came the closest they had all night to scoring from a forced 5m scrum but Grice was held up in a collapsed maul and the ball turned over.
The home side kept the pressure on and won a penalty, only for Renata to hook his attempt from 30m out and again the Bay loosies forced a maul turnover.
But the Bay were not exempt from mistakes themselves and a 53rd minute penalty from 49m was kicked by Renata to put Waikato in front for the first time, 9-6.
Seven minutes later and Renata made it four from five to take the home side out to 12-6, thriving on much better field position, even if the attack was somewhat toothless.
Waikato coach Chris Gibbes did not go to his bench until the 69th minute but it was again Renata who increased the scoreline to 15-6 with his fifth penalty goal after fellow backs Declan O'Donnell and Tokula had taken the attack back inside Bay territory.
The Bay, helped by their first penalty of the half (Waikato got six) six minutes from the end, threw everything into attack but again they lost the ball in contact in the face of a stubborn Waikato defence.
That defence kept harrying BoP deep into their half and again Lawrence found a penalty that Renata missed from 45m on the angle but it left the visitors deep in their own half and time running out.
Scorers: Waikato 15 (Trent Renata 5 penalty goals) Bay of Plenty 6 (Nick McCashin 2 penalty goals). Halftime 6-6.