West stars as Hawke's Bay dominate
August 17, 2013
Young fly-half Ihaia West proved his potential as Hawke's Bay brushed aside Manawatu 45-18 to the delight of a healthy crowd at McLean Park on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts didn't have it their own way early as indiscipline at the kick-off led to three free kicks to Manawatu in the opening eight minutes. The visitors took full advantage for a 6-0 lead as the hosts were left to wonder when they would get the ball.
Cue West. The young No.10 proved he had the composure to steer his side with a commanding role behind scrum-half Alby Mathewson in the seven-tries-to-two victory. He scored a try and could have had another while he also kicked four conversions as the hosts made a dominant start to their ITM Cup Championship campaign.
West wasn't the only back to score for the hosts. The try-scorers list read like an all-star wrap for Hawke's Bay, with exciting fullback Gillies Kaka, wing Telusa Veainu, Zac Guildford and Alby Mathewson also crossing the line, as did promising forward Brendan O'Connor and veteran flanker Karl Lowe.
But it was West who steered the ship with confidence and composure as Hawke's Bay started the season with a confident 27-point victory, their 63rd win over Manawatu in 97 matches.
The only area of concern was the resetting of scrums under referee Kane McBride. The new law changes around the setting and binding of scrums did little to iron out any rough edges, with only a noticeable delay between the "crouch" and "bind" calls the real difference.
Conditions were perfect at kick-off, with the intensity of the occasion lifted by the Kelvin Tremain trophy, which is contested by the two provinces. After weathering their own storm, Hawke's Bay began to settle into their work and were rewarded with three tries in relatively quick succession. While their attacking prowess was on show, with tries to O'Connor, Kaka and Veainu, it was the hosts' quick line speed that put Manawatu under pressure in front of an appreciative McLean Park crowd.
Jason O'Halloran's men were made to pay for their unforced errors within their own half as Hawke's Bay dined on territory and possession for the majority of the first half. It went from bad to worse for Manawatu as Guildford charged down newcomer Jade Te Rure's clearance kick immediately after half-time to push the knife deeper into the wound with a bonus- point try within the opening minute of the second half.
At the other end of the field, Manawatu managed to find themselves territory and a try to Lewis Marshall to give the visitors some confidence. However, the resistance was broken soon after to the delight of the 6,800 in attendance in Napier.
The tries continued to flow for both sides as Mathewson and West dotted down for the hosts and replacement prop Bryn Templeman crossed for the visitors to reduce the deficit to 18-38.
But Manawatu were guilty of conceding points immediately after scoring their own and Lowe was the benefactor in his 92nd match for the province. It was the last try in what was an entertaining 80 minutes for the home crowd as Hawke's Bay lifted the Kel Tremain Memorial Trophy.
The victors travel to Tauranga to tackle Bay of Plenty in their second round match next Sunday while Manawatu host Auckland in Palmerston North on the same day.
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures