Hawke's Bay 57 Mid Canterbury 12
The Magpies did a spectacular job of demolishing Mid Canterbury in their third and final Ranfurly Shield defence against Heartland Championship opposition at McLean Park, Napier tonight.
The Magpies' tremendous depth was again on display. It was the second-string midfielders' turn to strut their stuff with centre Jonah Lowe scoring two tries in a player-of-the-match display and his second five-eighth Billy Ropiha almost as outstanding.
Mid Canterbury were full of endeavour during the first few minutes and were rewarded with a penalty to first five-eighth Murray Williams from 47 metres out in the fourth minute. Magpies pivot Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald had earlier missed one from a similar distance in the opening minute.
The Magpies were a lot more urgent at the breakdown than in their previous two defences. But the visitors were equally as hungry with their defensive work.
Elkington-MacDonald nailed his second penalty attempt in the 13th minute from 24 metres. The Magpies took the lead for the first time in the 26th minute when Elkington-MacDonald slotted another penalty from 25 metres.
It took the Magpies 29 minutes to score their first try but it was a beauty. The created a four man overlap and fed winger Shannan Chase at pace. He beat the cover defence with ease to score in the corner and put the hosts ahead 11-3.
Mid Canterbury closed the gap with another Williams penalty just before halftime. If there was any doubt the visitors weren't going to provide the toughest challenge to date this should have been erased as the Magpies heading for their halftime chat.
Chase thought he was over for a second try in the 43rd minute but North Harbour referee Brendon Pickerill penalised the Magpies for a scrum infringement 56 metres back down field. Williams maintained his 100 per cent success ratewith this attempt.
Two minutes later Pickerill penalised the hosts for a breakdown infringement and Mid Canterbury were back in front at 12-11. Elkington-MacDonald put the Magpies back in front with a 48th minute penalty before he was replaced by first string pivot Ihaia West.
The Magpies were beginning to pick up the pace and were rewarded with a penalty which West slotted from in front in the 53rd minute. Two minutes later Lowe scored his first first-class try for the Magpies after a superb break from winger Mason Emerson.
Lowe had his second try within two minutes after a clever burst from fullback Zac Guildford. West succeeded with the conversion and the Magpies were ahead 29-12 and clear of the danger zone.
Magpies captain Brendon O'Connor extended the lead with his try in the 67th minute which West converted. Fellow flanker Tony Lamborn dashed in for another and West was again on target.
Fullback Zac Guildford completed a spectacular counter attack in which Ropiha was impressive for a 72nd minute try. West added the extras.
Substitute winger Ryan Tongia completed the try feast two minutes from the final whistle and West was again on target.
All of the Mid Canterbury side deserve praise for their courageous first 50 minutes. But like the previouos two challengers they realised how big the gap is between their competition and the Magpies.
•Heartstopper: One of the visitors tackles on Magpies No 8 Joseph Penitito in the 12th minute. It was a thumper but Penitito got up and soldiered on admirably.
•Turning point: Magpies centre Jonah Lowe's first try in the 55th minute which put the Bay ahead 22-12. Mid Canterbury were never going to recover from this deficit.
•Player of the match: Lowe with his two tries, electrifying pace and solid defensive work. But only just ahead of Billy Ropiha, Mark Abbott and Mason Emerson.
•Scorers: Hawke's Bay Magpies 57 (Jonah Lowe 2, Shannan Chase, Tony Lamborn, Brendon O'Connor, Zac Guildford, Ryan Tongia tries; Tyrone Elkington-MacDonald 3 pens; Ihaia West 5 cons, pen) Mid Canterbury 12 (Murray Williams 4 pens).