The Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team's journey back to the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership got a lot tougher following tonight's 46-17 loss to the Bay of Plenty Steamers in Rotorua.
As Magpies captain Ash Dixon said post-game the visitors were out muscled at the breakdown and turned over too much ball as they allowed the Steamers to become the inaugural holders of the MacRae-Shelford Bay Cup.
"We were pretty soft and we've got to have a look at ourselves," Dixon said.
As in the previous week's round one fixture against the Southland Stags, the Magpies produced a poor first half and trailed 20-3 at halftime. Poor discipline again didn't help the visitors cause.
Prop Pouri Rakete-Stones was sinbinned in the ninth minute after taking a player out in the air for the second time at lineout time. The Magpies were on the wrong end of a 6-4 penalty count at halftime.
Former Taradale prop Siegfried Fisi'ihoi opened the scoring with an 11th minute try which 35-year-old Steamers pivot and player of the match Mike Delany converted. The Magpies replied with a penalty from first five-eighth Ihaia West in the 18th minute.
The Steamers dominated the second quarter with a try by centre Lalakai Foketi and two penalties and a conversion from Delany giving the hosts a comfortable cushion.
There was hope for the Magpies when No 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u scored their first try in the 46th minute which West converted. However the turning point came when Steamers winger and former All Black Sevens rep Joe Webber scored the first of his two tries in the 60th minute after tidy continuity and phase play. Delany was again on target with the extras.
West kept the Magpies in touch with a clever solo try in the 67th minute which he converted to have the visitors trailing 27-17. Feeble defence and a lack of aggression at the breakdown from the Magpies allowed the Steamers to rule again during the final 10 minutes.
Substitute loosie Jesse Parete scored tries in the 70th and 80th minutes and Webber scored his second in the 77th. Along with Delany, winger Monty Ioane and halfback Richard Judd were key architects in the winning backline.
All of the Steamers forwards, including the substitutes, deserve praise for their input. West was again the best of the Magpies.
Hawke's Bay Magpies 17 (Ihaia West, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u tries; West 2 cons pen), Bay of Plenty Steamers 46 (Joe Webber 2, Jesse Parete 2, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Lalakai Foketi tries; Mike Dalany 2 pens, 4 cons; Luke Campbell con). HT: BOP 20-3.