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Poverty Bay show nice touches in win

Poverty Bay made it two out of two in their home-and-away games against Ngati Porou East Coast, and they did it with a touch of showmanship.

The Civil Project Solutions Poverty Bay rugby team beat the Coast 42-16 at Whakarua Park, Ruatoria, on Saturday.

The highlight of the match came in the closing stages, in a move that Poverty Bay head coach Tom Cairns said “should earn a Man United contract”.

Bay winger Matt Raleigh kicked the ball downfield after a quick turnover in his own half. He easily won the chase to the ball, which took an awkward bounce. As Raleigh overran the ball, he back-heeled it off the sole of his boot over his head and into his hands. All that was left was to score between the posts. The home fans cheered for the away player's effort as if it was one of their own who had scored.

Action was tit-for-tat for extended periods, but Poverty Bay wore down their opponents by maintaining possession and making the Coast defend.

The Bay ultimately got the upper hand and piled on the points in the second half after a close first 40 minutes.

“We talked about game shape and finding a soft edge during the week . . . we talked about being ruthless to close games out,” Cairns said.

Poverty Bay scored early through blindside flanker Jesse Kapene. He ran a good supporting line for centre Tione Hubbard, who capitalised on a wayward offload and sliced through a gap in the Coast's defensive line before passing to Kapene.

Poverty Bay played most of the game without playmaker Andrew Tauatevalu after he took a scary blow to the head 15 minutes into the game.

Looking to run the ball back after a deep kick, Tauatevalu took on the defensive line and was knocked out in an accidental clash of heads with Coast winger Fabyan Kahaki.

Players showed immediate concern for Tauatevalu, supporting his neck as medical staff came to his aid. Fears of serious injury were allayed when Tauatevalu was able to make his way off the field without help.

Kelvin Smith took over the kicking duties after Tauatevalu left the field and was 100 percent from the tee. He made hard kicks from both corners in a swirling wind.

East Coast kept in touch on the scoreboard in the first half, scoring through loosehead prop Perrin Manuel. Proving that front-rowers can be agile too, Manuel stepped off his outside foot and dummied his way through a gap. His momentum carried him over the line, despite the best efforts of the covering defence.

Despite that setback, Poverty Bay held firm and maintained their lead throughout. Strong ball running by the forwards in the middle of the park gave them the base to spread the ball wide. The Coast defence started to creep in because of the pressure and Poverty Bay capitalised with tries to wingers Te Peehi Fairlie and Raleigh.

Two penalties to wing George Shields kept the Coast in the picture, down 21-11 at halftime.

In the second half, Poverty Bay spent long periods camped in the Coast's red zone. The defence held out for almost 30 minutes before the mounting pressure took its toll on the Coast's stamina.

Poverty Bay's scrum was dominant all game and as East Coast slowed the Bay scrum got stronger. Following a string of resets the Bay looked for a push-over try. As the scrum disintegrated, and with a penalty advantage, No.8 Adrian Wyrill took the ball off the back and pop-passed to openside flanker Willie Bolingford, who scored in the confusion.

East Coast hit back with a try to No.8 Hone Haerewa out on the wing as his team lined up with numbers to burn. Haerewa took on the last line of defence head-first and reached out to score a try.

But it wasn't enough. The struggles of the Coast scrum were highlighted again soon after, when it broke apart as the Bay went for a push-over try and a penalty try was awarded.

Cairns said Poverty Bay saw their scrum as a weapon that helped them “get on top of the set-piece”.

“Ngati Porou played some good rugby too. They carried hard but our defence was better this week.”

EVASIVE ACTION: Poverty Bay winger Matt Raleigh looks to fend off the tackle of Ngati Porou East Coast centre Pamona Samupo in Saturday's match. Picture by Liam Clayton