Hawkes Bay 17
Hawkes Bay finally got a tick in the win column with victory over Manawatu in a fifth-round national provincial championship rugby match at Palmerston North yesterday.
The result saw Manawatu fall to their fifth straight loss of the season despite a promising 9-6 lead at halftime.
Both teams, down on confidence after each opening their provincial championship campaigns with a four-game winless streak, were unable to exert their authority on the game for any great period of time.
Promising moves often broke down in midfield and turnovers were the order of the day.
It was left to the light sprinkling of All Blacks in the game - Aaron Cruden for Manawatu, and Israel Dagg and discarded All Black Zac Guildford for Hawkes Bay - to insert some individual quality into the game.
Dagg was outstanding in the stop-start match. His twinkling footwork and sharp acceleration causing a host of problems for the Manawatu defenders.
Guildford was typically industrious throughout the match and his persistence and efficiency paid off when he set up the game's only try in the second half.
All the points from the first spell came from Daniel Kirkpatrick, for Hawkes Bay, and Cruden who kicked three penalties to his opposite's two.
Guildford broke the game open in the 60th minute with a clever grubber that fresh-faced rookie wing Gillies Kaka collected to score his first national championship try.
Kirkpatrick missed the conversion, but made amends after Dagg conjured up a 73rd-minute penalty.