It was one of the finest performances by the Mooloos in recent memory as Waikato thrashed Bay of Plenty 43-10 in Tauranga this afternoon.
James Tucker. Credit: Mooloo NZ
Bay of Plenty captain Cullum Retallick labeled his sides’ performance as disgraceful after going down six tries to one.
Retallick was clearly dejected post match, “pretty embarrassed that the community got behind us and we couldn’t deliver,” Retallick said.
Bay of Plenty were never in the match, a Waikato side dominant throughout with some scintillating rugby in all areas.
Dan Hollinshead opened the scoring for the Steamers when Ben Tamiefuna was penalized for not rolling away; but it would go on to be the only points Bay of Plenty would notch for over 70-minutes.
With an attacking scrum near the 22-meter line, Brad Weber broke away but lost his footing before he could get rid off the ball. Stringing phases together, Damian McKenzie stepped through the line, and when Weber slung to ball out to Joe Webber on the wing, some desperate defense kept Waikato out again.
Refusing to die, Waikato kept possession on attack and Declan O’Donnell broke away with speed and had Weber on the inside unmarked, and the Mooloos co captain ran away for the try.
McKenzie converted and Waikato led 7-3.
A massive hit on defense gave Waikato an advantage, and a series of inch by inch plays, Michael Mayhew powered through the ruck and scored.
McKenzie converted again; Waikato led 14-3.
Ben Tamiefuna played a big part in the two early tries for Waikato, redeeming himself for a silly penalty in the opening moments of the game.
Cullum Retallick was given ten minutes on the sideline for not retreating when Waikato took a free tap to try and counter attack.
The Steamers were lucky to concede just three points while a man down, McKenzie slotting his third of the day after a penalty at scrum time.
Brad Weber scored his second try of the first half, sprinting past the Bay of Plenty defense to finish an attack that was set up from nothing by Damian McKenzie.
At halftime, Waikato led 24-3.
The Steamers tried to spark into life as the second half began, but multiple phases came to nothing when they we penalized for holding on.
James Tucker snuck through the defense and gained good meters, but scrappy execution had Bay of Plenty breathing a sigh of relief. Loni Uhila put in two massive hits to silence an increasingly desperate Bay of Plenty attack.
Weber almost set himself up for a third try, creating space and streaking away but failed to find McKenzie in support.
Waikato scored their fourth, and earned a bonus point, when an offload from James Tucker set Jordan Payne free, the midfielder scoring a rare try as the onslaught continued. McKenzie continued a perfect afternoon with the boot, and Waikato had a hold on the game 31-3.
Joe Webber left the field with an injury as play got back underway.
Zane Kapeli capitalized on a good gain by Dylan Collier and Waikato scored another try, growing the lead to a dominant 36-3 with a quarter of the match still to play.
Tim Bond came off second best trying to tackle Uhila, becoming the second casualty for the Steamers trying to cut down the charging Mooloos prop.
Bryn Gatland finally made his debut for Waikato in the 65th minute, replacing Shaun Stevenson, and Welsh coach Warren Gatland was no doubt looking on as his son carried on a successful rugby family’s presence in New Zealand rugby.
Harrison Levien made his debut shortly after, replacing Weber in the halfback role.
After over 70-minites of toil, Joe Tupe finally got a try for Bay of Plenty, giving his side some respectability on the scoreboard, a just reward for sticking with attack despite the game being lost well before time.
James Tucker, perhaps the most deserving man on the park, scored late in the piece for Waikato, putting the stamp on an impressive performance that lit up the Mooloos throughout.
The fulltime hooter sounded, and Waikato won 43-10 at the Tauranga Domain.