A clinical display by Bay of Plenty Steamers has booked their place in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship final after belting Manawatu 64-3 tonight.
The Bay showed that rugby can be a simple game – get front foot ball and use an efficient backline to score points. A near flawless set piece and an industrious forward pack led to a dominant performance at Rotorua International Stadium tonight.
After the visitors kicked an early penalty, Bay of Plenty responded with pressure on defence as Tom Franklin charged down a clearing kick. It led to an attacking scrum for the Bay and as they swept, left the space for Emoni Narawa to punch through a disjointed Manawatu defence to score.
It would not be the last time the fleet-footed fullback would trouble Manawatu. Bay of Plenty benefited from a solid set piece as Narawa joined the line again to hit the gap from a Mitch Karpik pass before linking with Joe Ravouvou, who crossed the line unopposed.
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The set piece would prove too much for Manawatu to deal with soon after as Bay of Plenty set up a maul for Nathan Vella to score. After first five Dan Hollinshead missed a penalty and two conversions, the superhuman Chase Tiatia took over the kicking duties and converted Vella's try to give his side a 17-3 lead after 19 minutes.
The Bay were riding a wave of confidence and after forcing a turnover, Narawa again helped ignite the backline as they made a deep raid into Manawatu's 22. Again the scrum was dominant and Hoani Matenga was the beneficiary as he scores the Bay's fourth try.
They showed no signs of letting up heading into halftime and had the Manawatu defence in a shambles. Three phases from the lineout, Baden Wardlaw picked a gap on the fringe and made a great offload for Richard Judd to score. Tiatia again converted and the Bay took a 31-3 lead into the break.
The onslaught continued after the break as Bay of Plenty again fractured the Manawatu defence when Franklin passed to former Highlanders teammate Alex Ainley, who continued the offload show, popping it up to captain Aidan Ross score.
Just before the 60 minute mark Narawa completed his hat-trick as he waltzed through the Manawatu defence to score. Three minutes later, replacement back Pryor Collier latched on to a kick in behind the defence to score on the left wing.
Jason Robertson added the final try in the 75th minute for the Steamers to complete the rout and end a clinical performance from a team heading in the right direction at the right time of the season. The Steamers wait to see who they will host in the final next week as the other semifinal between Hawke's Bay and Otago in Napier is played tomorrow.
No matter who they play though, they get a home final at Rotorua International Stadium.