Taranaki 55 Hawke’s Bay 28

Taranaki have shaken off a slow start to the season and an even more laborious beginning to the match to run away with a bonus-point victory over Hawke's Bay.

After battling their way to an opening-week win over Bay of Plenty, Taranaki endured similar struggles in the opening quarter at Yarrow Stadium yesterday.

But the cobwebs were summarily blown out and so were the Magpies, with the home side crossing for seven tries as they overturned a 14-10 halftime deficit to move clear at the top of the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership standings.

Marty McKenzie continued his excellent start to the campaign from the tee, slotting nine from 10 as part of a 25-point haul to initially keep Taranaki in the contest before helping to boost the margin to insurmountable levels.


That looked unlikely early as everything went the visitors' way in the opening 20 minutes. A fluid move finished by Jonah Lowe and some brilliant anticipation from Ash Dixon saw Hawke's Bay storm to a 14-0 lead, an advantage that could have been even greater had Lowe not been denied a second by a seemingly phantom obstruction call.

And the Magpies were left to rue the decision of Max O'Leary as Taranaki were stunned to life, creeping close before the break and proceeding to run rampant in the second spell. By the time Ihaia West finally added to his side's tally, the hosts had racked up 31 unanswered points, highlighted by a superb solo try to electric wing Manasa Mataele.

Taranaki were far from content with their lead, proceeding to cross three more times in the final 15 minutes, while Hawke's Bay were left to settle for a four-try bonus point that lifted them off foot of the Premiership ladder.

Taranaki 55 (M. Croswell, I. Iopu-Aso, R. Marshall, M. Mataele, M. McKenzie, D. O'Donnell, T Spooner-Neera tries; M. McKenzie 2 pens, 7 cons)
Hawke's Bay 28 (J. Lowe, A. Dixon, I. West, G. Cridge tries; I. West 4 cons)
Halftime: 10-14