Taranaki 41 Bay of Plenty 3
Taranaki the entertainers. Yes, it's true.
Fresh from smashing up Waikato, they dealt to another Chiefs cohort - Bay of Plenty - in New Plymouth today. The game was well and truly over by halftime, after an onslaught which had the Steamers steaming backwards at a great rate of knots. Leading 34 - 3 at the break, Taranaki stumbled in the second half adding just one more try in a 41-3 victory.
Depressingly for Bay of Plenty, two of Taranaki's five first half tries came from the visitors' best attacks, as the home side launched long distance raids. The first try resulted from a Taranaki tighthead and a smart read of the situation from halfback Chris Smylie who sent Codey Rei flying down the right hand touchline.
The next evolved from a quick penalty tap by James Marshall near his goal line, and then an infield kick from Seta Tamanivalu which produced an easy try to Waisake Naholo.
Taranaki kept charging on to nicely floated passes and Bay of Plenty had no defensive answer, even though they produced likely attacking moments of their own with No.
10 Dan Hollinshead willing to take on the line.
Something inevitably went wrong when Bay of Plenty got close to the line, whereas Taranaki met scant resistance on their raids. Charlie Ngatai's try summed it up - a bit of a step and some turbo boost and in he went for a try with defenders shy about their duties.
The second half was a shambles, to put it nicely. Bay of Plenty improved slightly, and Taranaki dropped their standards completely. The only score came on full time with Marty McKenzie the creator and scorer, thanks to a kind bounce of the ball and similarly generous video refereeing decision.
It is shaping as a long season for Bay of Plenty, who are at the foot of the ITM Cup division. With McKenzie and Marshall pulling the strings, Taranaki have plenty of attacking options. On the downside, they lost influential No. 8 Blade Thomson with what appeared a serious leg injury.
Outhouse to Penthouse: All Black hooker-in-waiting Nathan Harris will jump from the worst team in the ITM Cup to the best team in world rugby. Bay of Plenty's Harris had 55 minutes of action.
Penthouse to Outhouse: A lively, entertaining first half of rugby descended into a horrible mess despite excellent conditions and a reasonable crowd of 6000 in New Plymouth.
Taranaki 41 (Codey Rei, Blade Thomson, Waisake Naholo, James Broadhurst, Charlie Ngatai, Marty McKenzie tries; McKenzie 4 con, pen), Bay of Plenty 3 (D. Hollinshead pen). Halftime: 34 - 3.