Rugby: East Coast keep heat on Wanganui

By John Hill of the Gisborne Herald

East Coast 56
King Country 24

East Coast moved into second on the Heartland Championship table with a 56-24 demolition of King Country at Ruatoria today.

The Coast had the game and a bonus point in the bag after 23 minutes, thanks to tries to first five-eighths John Semple, fullback Verdon Bartlett, centre Pomare Samupo and right wing Whaimoto Craft-Chemis. The lead soon stood at 29-0 when Semple scored his second try.

The visitors hit back with a try to fullback Paul Olsen in the 35th minute. Olsen, who finished with three tries, dotted down again two minutes before halftime.

Despite Coast player coach Ngarimu Simpkins ringing the changes, his side struck within a minute of the restart through a try to prop-cum-loosie Ziggy Fisihoi.

The game lost some structure as both teams threw the ball around. Four tires were scored, two to each team, in a 14-minute spell but the crowd weren't complaining.

"That's Maori rugby at it's best, mate," said Simpkins, whose side are one point behind Wanganui with one game remaining before the playoffs.

Fisihoi and Coast openside flanker Brent Ingram shared the man-of-the-match honours with lock Everard Reid, Semple, blindside flanker Tanetoa Parata, wing TK Moeke and halfback Charlie Harrison also playing well.

East Coast 56 (John Semple 2, Ziggy Fisiihoi 2, Verdon Bartlett, Pomare Samupo, Whaimotu Craft-Chemis, Everard Reid, Brent Ingram, Ben Parkes tries; Semple 3 cons) King Country 24 (Paul Olsen 3, Dean Church tries; Sean Cressy con, Kurt Strachan con). HT: 29-12.

- APNZ

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