Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Action fires tight encounter

Lelia Masaga of Bay of Plenty runs the ball with Phil Burleigh in support. Photo / Getty Images
Lelia Masaga of Bay of Plenty runs the ball with Phil Burleigh in support. Photo / Getty Images

Rugby's provincial carnival rolled into Mt Maunganui tonight with punters getting some serious action for their entrance fees.

It was a mix of frightening and frivolous as Bay of Plenty and Wellington sought to rectify last round defeats.

When the action ended, Wellington had arrested their slide and the hosts were left to ponder another splutter.

Both sides had tries inside the opening eight minutes before the match settled into a more combative duel in front of a 6900 crowd.

The Bay's Mafileo Kefu slipped past several weak tackles before Ross Filipo replied with a drive from a ruck.

At that stage the scoreboard attendants might have wondered about repetitive strain injury clauses in their employment contracts.

But as quickly as the match broke open, it settled, apart from one superb length-of-the-field try from Wellington.

They ran the ball from their line, got the benefit of a lost pass which bounced off a goalpost and about 20 seconds later Alipate Leiua completed the move at the other end of Baypark Stadium.

It was a glorious example of concentrated interaction, one the Bay emulated after the break when Lelia Masaga scored from a setplay after setting up the chance with a weaving 50m run downfield.

In between there were brilliant cameos and patches of uncertainty with neither side able to break free as kickers Lima Sopoaga and Chris Noakes kept adding points.

Tim Bateman's intercept 10 minutes from time should have sealed the game for Wellington but he was cut down by replacement Jack Wilson.

However the visiting side had enough composure to pin the Bay in their half and secure victory when their stronger scrum earned another penalty.

Wellington 36 (Ross Filipo, Alipate Leiua, Shaun Treeby tries; Lima Sopoaga 5 pen, 3 con)

Bay of Plenty 26 (Mafileo Kefu, Lelia Masaga tries; Chris Noakes 4 pen, 2 con)

Halftime: 23-16 Wellington

- NZ Herald

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