35 vs 24
Hawke’s Bay displayed incredible resolve to hold off Wellington 35-24 in Napier on Thursday night.
Having led 17-0 in the opening quarter, the Magpies fell behind late in the second half before scoring two unanswered tries to put the result beyond doubt.
Replacement Adam Bradey edged his side ahead when he slammed the ball down the in corner, but it was a sublime piece of individual brilliance by Ihaia West that had the boisterous home crowd on their feet.
His brilliant foot work sliced the Lions defence open before pure speed saw off the challenge of three covering defenders.
The win saw the men from McLean Park climb to second on the championship ladder, while other results in the coming days will determine whether they will host next week’s semifinal.
Meanwhile, Wellington, sitting seven points atop the premiership, will need to regroup before hosting Counties Manukau.
Chris Boyd will be first to admit the performance was extremely disappointing.
His Lions were dominated at the breakdown by a Magpies loose forward trio led by unwanted Hurricane Karl Lowe. In general play, there may have been a few players with an eye other things as a noticeable lack of commitment became a problem.
The Lions could be heard using the buzzword ‘hungry’ from the opening kickoff but it was the home side who displayed that characteristic as they burst out of the blocks, albeit under controversial circumstances.
Alapati Leiua could hardly believe his eyes as a touch judge no less than 10 metres away wrongly deemed his foot to be in touch. The glaring error handed Hawke’s Bay excellent field position for Zac Guildford to slide over the whitewash.
Moments later Telusa Veainu dotted down under the posts, and not even a TMO review found a pass in the lead-up was marginally forward.
Wellington suffered another blow as second-five Charlie Ngatai trudged off the field with a noticeable limp.
Looking to swing the momentum, captain Victor Vito turned down a kickable penalty, opting instead for a scrum.
The superior Lions pack easily forced their way to the line where the All Blacks No 8 cashed in for a crucial try.
His effort was replicated shortly after when lock Mark Reddish muscled his way over to reduce the deficit to six points as half-time approached.
That was before West slotted his third penalty to restore Hawke’s Bay’s buffer to nine points.
The visitors then got to within two points after Ngatai’s replacement Afa Fa’atau breached the defence on the left flank.
Trailing by just two points, Wellington hit the front as Sopoaga stepped up the kicking tee.
However, all the good work was undone when some loose handling crept into Wellington’s game. Passes were fired into touch; offloads found no-one in particular.
It allowed the home side to once again grab the lead when Bradey did well to keep his finger tips on the ball as he reached across from beneath a pile of bodies.
No-one had counted Wellington out, and there were some tense moments for the home crowd.
That’s when West mesmerized everyone with his scintillating break that sealed Wellington’s fate.
Hawke’s Bay: 35 (Zac Guildford, Telusa Veainu, Adam Bradey, Ihaia West tries; Ihaia West 3 cons, 3 pens)
Wellington: 24 (Victor Vito, Mark Reddish, Afa Fa’atau tries; Lima Sopoaga 3 cons, pen)
Source : – http://www.itmcup.co.nz/