BAY BRING THE HEAT
Wow. After Poverty Bay gave Buller a 76-14 thrashing at Rugby Park on Saturday, that about sums it up.
Co-coach Tom Cairns had said the team wanted to put in a performance to be proud of. This was one they won’t forget.
In stifling spring heat, Poverty Bay ran circles around the visitors.
In the first 30 minutes of the game they piled on 43 unanswered points as they controlled almost all possession and territory.
The win is Poverty Bay’s biggest against Buller, eclipsing the 32-point margin in their 35-3 NPC third division win in 2000.
Buller had to survive on scraps, which provided poor sustenance as they mustered only 14 first-half points, their final tally for the game.
Poverty Bay’s back three — fullback Andrew Tauatevalu and wingers Aaron McLelland and Tione Hubbard — were on fire. They carved up the outer reaches of the Buller line with their speed and footwork, exposing gaping holes in the defence as they combined for 11 tries.
Tauatevalu was outstanding off the tee, missing only two attempts on his way to a personal tally of 20 points, which included a try.
Cairns said he was proud of the performance from the back three and pleased with how they were able to link up on counter-attack. He was also happy with the way substitutes Taine Aupouri and Te Peehi Fairlie continued the momentum after McLelland and Hubbard left the field with niggling injuries.
The Bay had some “fantastic players”.
Poverty Bay’s offloading was remarkable. The desire to keep the play alive put Buller on the back foot, constantly retreating, and often they were caught off-guard.
Buller had dominance at the scrum early, but their forward pack suffered in the sun and under the Poverty Bay game plan.
Poverty Bay swung the ball from left to right, stretching the defence to breaking point in a try-scoring frenzy.
Prop James Higgins had a terrific game, playing the full 80 minutes while being an anchor for the Poverty Bay scrum and making almost guaranteed metres on attack.
Poverty Bay co-coach Miah Nikora said the way the forward pack banded together made their performance so strong.
“We laid the challenge out to our forward pack: the set-piece is where it starts,” he said.
“The lineouts and scrums give the base for the backs to do their thing, and they did that.”
It was a performance that left spectators wondering if they could keep it up for the 80 minutes. The combination of a frantic pace and one of the first hot days of spring was punishing. Both teams had players sprawled out in exhaustion during breaks in the final stages.
Cairns said that was the mark of a committed team with pride in their jersey and pride in their province.
With the game already secured, the way Poverty Bay rounded off the match with a try-saving tackle by Tauatevalu and a try to Higgins highlighted the team’s attitude.
“It was a massive effort from everyone, from one to 22,” Nikora said.
“The guys emptied the tank.
“Even though we are a lot happier with the performance, the feeling is that it’s only a starting point. The challenge now is to stay at that level and keep improving.”
Poverty Bay 76 (Penikolo Latu 2, Andrew Tauatevalu, Rikki Terekia 2, Stefan Destounis 2, Aaron McLelland, Kelvin Smith, Te Peehi Fairlie, James Higgins tries; Tauatevalu 6 conversions, penalty; Smith con).
Buller 14 (Isei Lewaqai, Iliesa Tora tries; Jesse Pitman-Joass 2 con).