Bay of Plenty 41
Bay of Plenty defied trying conditions to outgun Manawatu and get their national provincial championship rugby campaign back on track at Mt Maunganui last night.
Coming off a heavy loss to Canterbury, the home side won 41-13 at a wet and windy Baypark where heavy rain in the hours before the match left large puddles and a slippery field to greet the players.
Thanks to an energetic pack of forwards, Bay of Plenty adapted to the surrounds better than Manawatu to register a bonus-point six tries and seal their third win from six outings, maintaining their push for a top-seven place and a berth in the revamped top tier of the competition next season.
Manawatu came off second best in all phases as they struggled to contain Bay of Plenty less than a week after rolling Wellington for their first win of the season.
They were very much in the contest for the first quarter but thereafter were left trying to plug holes around the fringes which Bay of Plenty ruthlessly exposed.
Ball control was at a premium, something Bay of Plenty cottoned on to early as their forwards laid the platform for a 20-6 halftime lead which was never threatened.
It was the endeavour of the pack which earned Bay of Plenty their first two tries, both scored by tighthead prop Tristan Moran in a four-minute spell after the teams had traded early penalties.
In his first season for the province, Moran burrowed over from close range in the 27th minute after Bay of Plenty had retained possession through 13 phases, and 4min later he was in again, this time after his fellow forwards' excellent technique enabled them to execute a rolling maul for 20m before the prop flopped over the line.
First five-eighth Mike Delany, who landed a 53m penalty early in the match when aided by a strong wind at his back, set up their third try with a well weighted stab kick which centre Corey Aporo carefully scooped up to dive over 5min before the interval.
Bay of Plenty picked up where they left off after the break, with wing Lelia Masaga securing the bonus point fourth try for his team with a piece of individual brilliance when he found himself cramped for space only to hustle his way past four tacklers.
The driving play of the forwards again led to their fifth try, this one to lock Culum Retallick, as Bay of Plenty threatened to embarrass the visitors but Manawatu at least had the satisfaction of a try of their own 7min from fulltime when replacement No 8 Bertus Mulder scored to cap a rare period a pressure from his side.
Bay of Plenty deserved to have the last word, though, and they did when second five-eighth Grant McQuoid crossed for the final try after replacement Ben Smith stepped through a hole and neatly delayed his pass to McQuoid.
Bay of Plenty 41 (Tristan Moran 2, Corey Aporo, Lelia Masaga, Culum Retallick, Grant McQuoid tries; Mike Delany pen, 2 con, Colin Bourke con, Dan Waenga con), Manawatu 13 (Bertus Mulder try; Isaac Thompson 2 pen, Craig Clare con). Halftime: 20-6.