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26th Aug: Heartlands Rugby - Big win for Wanganui!
Published: 26 Aug 2017 - - Author: David Ogilvie

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Wanganui made a remarkable start to its Meads Cup rugby defence today, scoring 10 tries to one in beating last year’s semi-finalist Wairarapa-Bush 79-7 at Cooks Gardens. David Ogilvie reports:

 

It was only right that a team-mate should toss off a final pass to Wanganui flanker Fraser Hammond to allow him the second-to-last try in the scoring spree in today’s Meads Cup rugby opener at Cooks Gardens.

The 79- win, 10 tries to one, was based on the sheer hard grind of players like veteran Hammond, his Ruapehu team-mate Jamie Hughes, No 8 Bryn Hudson, and the rest of the Wanganui pack.

Together they belted their way into Wairarapa-Bush’s forwards, knocked them completely off stride, and gave Craig Clare plenty of go-forward ball to produce a masterclass at first five-eighths.

Clare backed-up Hammond’s powerhouse display with 26 point, great decision-making, a 100 percent goalkicking display and a turn of foot that all 33-year-old would envy in scoring a 55-metre try to really turn the screw late in the first half.

In the week of the death of the great man this Meads Cup is named after, it seemed Wanganui wanted to produce - as the current holder - something special to farewell Sir Colin with.

The home team succeeded. Its ambition and skill both fitted the glorious weather. So outclassed were Waiarapa Bush that barely a player caught the eye. Former All Black Piri Weepu tried to organise the defence, but it was a hopeless task - in the end he left with what appeared to be a serious injury.

Wanganui coach Jason Caskey would have to be pleased that not  only did his team play with freedom and skill, it also continued the pressure through much of the second half when it would have been easy to have slackened off..

The next match is against Thames Valley at Paeroa, and that side also started well today by beating East Coast 40-13 at Ruatoria.

The challenge now is for Wanganui to carry on the standard. But players did step up today. Without longtime leader Peter Rowe, new skipper Roman Tutauha was very good and openside flanker Jamie Hughes superb.

Hammond took on the grunt work of three men, and locks Sam Madams and Sokonia Kalou were very good. All the forward were good - but there will be better opposition.

Lindsay Horrocks had a great ride behind the pack and played accordingly, and the strong man Timoci Seruwalu at second-five wreaked havoc with a hat-trick of tries and several try assists. A word too for the unpredictable Samu Kubunavanua at fullback - he lived up to his reputation most effectively.

Very importantly, injures appeared to be few - Wanganui will need luck in this area to have a chance of retaining its title.

But it was a great start.

Results:

Wanganui 79 (Timoci Seruwalu 3, Fraser Hammond, Kaveni Debonaise, Simon Dibben, Lindsay Horrocks, Tremaine Gilbert, Angus Middleton tries; Craig Clare try, 3pen, 6con; Dane Whale 4con) bt Wairarapa-Bush 7 (Nikora Ewe try; Tim Priest con). HT: Wanganui 30-7.

Other scores:

Buller 27 South Canterbury 24, Thames Valley 40 East Coast 13, West Coast 17 King Country 6, Horowhenua-Kapiti 22 North Otago 19, Mid Canterbury 34 Poverty Bay 5.

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