Magpies punish Stags' mistakes
October 4, 2013
Ihaia West enjoyed another good night for the Magpies
© Getty Images
Southland, third on the ladder but not assured of making the finals, proved their own worst enemies as they failed to retain possession while Robbie Robinson endured a horror night with his hands and a poor kick from Marty McKenzie resulted in the vital try of the evening scored by Ihaia West. Scott Eade, furthermore, suffered an off night with his goal-kicking to compound the Stags' woes.
Hawke's Bay, by contrast, enjoyed dominance in the loose headed by Brendan O'Connor with great support from Mike Coman. Lock Mark Abbott, who has just signed a contract with the Hurricanes, also ranged effectively to keep a high level of pressure on the home team.
Southland led 8-6 after an indifferent first half, after John Hardie crashed over for an unconverted try from a five-metre lineout on the stroke of the the interval, and they looked good for the points five minutes into the second stanza when Eade converted a try from Willis Halaholo, who had charged onto a ball from McKenzie and cut back on an angle to wrong-foot the defence.
West reduced the margin with a penalty goal, and Robinson then gifted them possession when he dropped a pass after the Magpies had kicked ahead. Hawke's Bay moved the ball with good effect and continuity before Andrew Horrell fed an in-pass to wing Zac Guildford to score a fine try the conversion of which gave them a 16-15 lead.
Abbott latched onto loose Southland ball and charged into open spaces and kicked ahead, and only the bounce of the ball saved Southland. Follow-up work from Guildford and O'Connor maintained the pressure, and the former All Blacks winger then fielded McKenzie's aimless midfield kick and fed Penikolo Latu; the replacement wing hared downfield and passed to West, who showed fine pace to race in for the try that took the Magpies out to the winning scoreline.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin
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