Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Waikato thrash Taranaki

Matt Vant Leven of Waikato evades the tackle of Jayden Hayward of Taranaki. Photo / Getty Images
Matt Vant Leven of Waikato evades the tackle of Jayden Hayward of Taranaki. Photo / Getty Images

Waikato 46
Taranaki 10

The Log of Wood is on the move again, up State Highway 3 to Hamilton after Waikato claimed the famous trophy last night in emphatic fashion.

All week a variety of Waikato rugby "names" had urged the team to attack without fear throughout the game.

The side responded with great precision, mangling Taranaki in most areas of the first half and leaving the home section of the crowd bemused by the visitors' superiority.

Waikato claimed four tries in that period and were denied a fifth by a forward pass, with a potent mix of concentrated forward power and nifty backline choices.

Until last night Waikato's work had been blotchy but they chose the best time to rediscover a venemous blend of rugby which shut Taranaki out of the contest.

Hawkes Bay will challenge for the trophy in 10 days time while Waikato will try to find some normality after the celebrations and their next match, away to Counties on Saturday.

The challengers had outstanding players across the park. Captain Alex Bradley laid down the mesages alongside a mountain of work and his men responded.

Hooker Marcel Cummings-Toone surged over after a few minutes as Waikato laced their backline snipes and forward muscle together in an unrelenting march into the opposition territory.

Matt vant Leven led the looseforward raids, picking his times to run or duel for turnovers while his link play kept up the Waikato momentum.

Toby Smith, Sam Christie, Romana Graham, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Trent Renata were central men in the surges while the skipper might have wondered late in the half whether he had done the right thing turning down a shot at goal in favour of a tap penalty.

He was brought down short but 10 minutes later capped a Waikato special as the pack rolled Taranaki's forwards 25m back towards their goalline for a clinical try. It was a superb example of technique, confidence and skill and confirmed the misery was almost complete for Taranaki at halftime.

Coach Colin Cooper confirmed his disgust in sacking several players including former All Black Jarrad Hoeata at the interval but there was no revival.

Within five minutes Waikato speedster Tim Mikkelson had claimed two tries clattering past some soft defence and then following a kick once Save Tokula broke the line.

There was little response from Taranaki until Kerr-Barlow was binned for a professional foul and his opposite Jamison Gibson-Park chopped and jinked past four defenders for a neat try.

That gave the holders a lift but Waikato brought a defensive line to match their attacking sting-a combination which proved irresistible as the Mooloo Men regained the most famous prize in New Zealand rugby.

Waikato 46 (Marcel Cummings-Toone, Trent Renata, Sam Christie, Alex Bradley, Tim Mikkelson 3, tries; Renata 4 con, pen)

Taranaki 10 (Jamison Gibson-Park try; Frazier Climo con, pen) Halftime: 27-3.


Play Jimungo Virtual End of Year Rugby Tours
Compete for prize money and bragging rights in Jimungo Virtual Rugby Tours - our game for the end of year international rugby matches. Simply choose the winning team and margin. Sign up now.

- NZ Herald

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 03 Sep 2014 05:28:15 Processing Time: 433ms