Rugby: Taranaki finally wakes up

Waisake Naholo of Taranaki scores a try during the match between Waikato and Taranaki. Photo / Getty Images
Waisake Naholo of Taranaki scores a try during the match between Waikato and Taranaki. Photo / Getty Images

Everyone was waiting for Taranaki to finally wake up.

After starting the ITM Cup with a dire draw with Counties Manukau and a loss to Hawke's Bay, Colin Cooper's men burst in to life with a record-breaking 46-17 demolition job against Waikato in Hamilton last night.

Marty McKenzie was the architect for Taranaki as he scored two of his side's first three tries and had an individual haul of 22 points from the opening spell as the visitors took a 27-3 lead to the break. McKenzie eventually finished with 24 points - five off Beauden Barrett's Taranaki record of 29.

Waikato coach Johnny Walters went to his bench to begin the second stanza as he added the considerable bulk of prop Ben Tameifuna in a bid to toughen up a scrum that had been manhandled during the opening 40 minutes.

All Black halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow came to life in the second half too and one audacious flick pass led to a try to Joe Webber - his fourth of the campaign - as the Mooloos hinted at an outrageous comeback as they pulled the scoreline back to 27-17.
Waikato's renaissance was short-lived though and coach Cooper would have been relieved to see Taranaki wing Jackson Ormond finish off a Seta Tamanivalu break to earn his side a bonus point.

Tamanivalu then scored a five-pointer of his own as the points began to pile up for a Taranaki side who got good service from hard-working forwards James Broadhurst and Blade Thomson.

Taranaki speedster Waisake Naholo completed his double with the final rights as Waikato copped their second heavy defeat in as many games.

Waikato have a quick turnaround with a trip to Albany to meet North Harbour on Saturday night, while Taranaki will host Bay of Plenty in New Plymouth on Sunday.

Taranaki 46 (Marty McKenzie 2, Waisake Naholo 2, Jackson Ormond, Seta Tamanivalu tries; McKenzie 2 pen, 4 con, Codey Rei con) Waikato 17 (Declan O'Donnell, Joe Webber tries; Wharenui Hawera pen, 2 con) halftime: 27-3.

- APNZ

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