Rugby: Dad's presence boosts Waenga

By Shane Hurndell

Hawke's Bay 37 Manawatu 13

McLean Park, Napier

Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby first five-eighth Dan Waenga's father Watene Waenga snr saw his son play live for the first time in five years yesterday.

Waenga gave his father a display to be proud of as the Magpies completed their pre-season programme with a 37-13 win against Manawatu at Napier's McLean Park. He scored 15 of the Magpies' points with six successes from seven attempts at goal. Considering it was his first outing since recovering from a bout of concussion collected in a club game on July 21, Waenga also impressed in general play.

His tactical kicking with both feet was spot on, his distribution accurate, he was safe under the high ball and there was an unload or two All Blacks first five-eighth Aaron Cruden would have been happy with.

"They were Dan Waenga-type unloads not Cruden-type," Waenga quipped afterwards.

"Seriously though you're right ... Dad being here gave me a big lift. He hadn't seen me play live since he moved to Australia in 2007."

Although his father represented Auckland at under-16 and Colts levels alongside the likes of former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick, he was never one to criticise or offer his son tips throughout his career.

"He just enjoys watching me play and because he flies back to Australia next week, this was his one and only opportunity."

Former New Zealand under-21 representative Waenga, 26, agreed the Magpies' performance was a vast improvement on their previous two matches in which they lost to Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

"I was reasonably happy with the first 40 but we lost a bit of structure in the second half. With several of our Super boys still to come back, we can build on this and hopefully do the business against Auckland in front of a packed crowd next week," Waenga said referring to the Magpies' home ITM Cup opener against Auckland next Thursday.

As the score suggests, the Premiership Magpies were dominant against the Championship Turbos. In his first outing for the Magpies this season, Crusaders winger Zac Guildford opened the scoring with a try in the first minute following a clever grubber from Waenga and a strong run from new centre Marvin Karawana. Waenga landed the conversion from wide out.

Hawke's Bay conceded a series of penalties which saw Manawatu enter their attacking 22 for the first time in the 11th minute and captain and Highlanders blindside flanker Nick Crosswell scored from a penalty 5 metres out. Turbos first five-eighth Nathan George kicked the conversion to tie the score.

Waenga kicked a penalty in the 18th minute to put the Magpies in front again. Another Waenga grubber set fullback Gillies Kaka up for his 21st minute try which Waenga converted.

George kicked a penalty in the 34th minute and Waenga landed his second penalty in the 40th minute to give the Magpies a 20-10 halftime lead. A George penalty in the 41st minute had the Turbos trailing 20-13.

Rampant Magpies hooker Ash Dixon scored his try in the 52nd minute when yet another huge gap opened in the Turbos defensive line. Waenga succeeded with the conversion and raised the flags for the sixth time with a penalty 10 minutes later.

Waenga was subbed off with 12 minutes remaining and his replacement Ihaia West scored and converted the Magpies' fourth try in the 77th minute.

All 25 Magpies used in the game played well. Their scrum was particularly impressive.

Crusaders lock Ross Kennedy's graft was outstanding. Fellow lock Maselino Paulino was unlucky to have a try disallowed when he put a foot into touch.

Captain and No8 Mike Coman was an inspirational leader and openside flanker Tony Lamborn, who didn't make the ITM Cup squad or wider training group, produced a display which may see Magpies coach Craig Philpott hold him back from his Heartland Championship stint with North Otago he was scheduled to start on Tuesday.

The defensive work of the Magpies backs was classy and their attacking moves benefited from superb distribution from Hurricanes halfback Chris Eaton. A sprained ankle collected by Chiefs winger Tino Nemani was the Magpies' only new injury concern but manager Neil Weber confirmed Nemani will be back to full training in two days.

Crosswell and New Zealand under-20s centre Jason Emery were the best of the Turbos starters while New Zealand Sevens star Tomasi Cama was a valuable contributor as a substitute winger.


Hawke's Bay 37 (Zac Guildford, Gillies Kaka, Ash Dixon, Ihaia West tries; Dan Waenga 3, West cons; Waenga 3 pens) Manawatu 13 (Nick Crosswell try; Nathan George 2 pens, con). HT: 20-10.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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