Taranaki make emphatic recovery

Getty Images

Friday, August 24, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Pouring on the power at key moments in the first half, they defanged Manawatu's pack with a try on halftime from a pushover try to No.8 Toa Halafihi which gave his side a 31-14 lead. And they continued to utilise their strength at every opportunity in the second half to tie up a powerful performance.
Prop Angus Ta'avao and hooker Ricky Riccitelli put all their Super Rugby experience to use up front while in the backline the one man wrecking unit that is centre Seta Tamanivalu created havoc all night with strong runs, chargedowns, vital tackles and set up plays with wing Manasa Mataele also contributing some strong runs.

Taranaki, mindful of their first round loss to Bay of Plenty, signalled their intent with a strong start with fullback Beaudein Waaka fielding a missed touch kick, set up play and then on receipt of a pass from first five-eighths Daniel Waite ran hard down the line, linking with Mataele who ran in the opening try after six minutes.

Manawatu worked the blindside from ruck after ruck and induced Mataele to attempt a long kick. That only resulted in wing Nehe Milner-Skudder running the ball back. Prop Michael Alaalatoa passed a long ball to centre Rob Thompson who took a gap and then fed fullback Junior Laloifi into space and he worked his magic to run 50m, and beating halfback Logan Crowley's tackle to head off the defence.

Having made their way back into Taranaki territory, Manawatu lost a lineout and the home team made them pay as a downfield kick was contested by wing Latu Vaeno in competition with Milner-Skudder. Vaeno claimed the ball when Milner-Skudder couldn't secure it, and when he was tackled, Taranaki won the ruck and it was Waaka who received a long ball to throw a dummy and go over for the try.

Thompson was back in the action in the 27th minute when fed into a gap by flanker Antonio Kiri Kiri. He sprinted into the goalmouth and desperate Taranaki defenders infringed twice, the second being a knocked ball over the dead ball line by Waaka. Manawatu took the lineout and brought the ball infield before flanker Nick Crosswell scored.

Continuing the topsy-turvy scoring, Taranaki latched onto a chargedown by centre Seta Tamanivalu to drive cleaner Malcolm back over the line. From the five-metre scrum the ball was moved for second five-eighths Tei Walden to run a good line to claim Taranaki's third try.

Halafihi's try followed just before the half, and then seven minutes after they returned, more Taranaki scrum power and an entry into the backline by Mataele, created space for first five-eighths Daniel Waite to score.

There was time for one of Manawatu's best Thompson to latch onto an in-pass from Kiri Kiri to score a 68th minute try which was reward for a more competitive period in their second half.

Scorers: Taranaki 41 (Manasa Mataele, Beaudein Waaka, Tei Walden, Toa Halafihi, Daniel Waite tries; Waaka 5 con, 2 pen) Manawatu 21 (Junior Laloifi, Nick Crosswell, Rob Thompson tries; Sam Malcolm 2 con; Jade Te Rure con). HT: 31-14