New Zealand Cup
Brilliant Messam sends Otago tumbling
September 26, 2008
Messam inspired Waikato to victory in Hamilton
© Getty Images
It only took half a game for Waikato captain Liam Messam to send Otago's Air NZ Cup rugby season to the cliff edge in Hamilton tonight.
The brilliant flanker bagged a first-half hattrick before limping off at halftime in his team's thumping 39-10 win at Waikato Stadium. Despite carrying a hamstring niggle, Messam was at his dynamic best in inspiring a 28-3 lead at the break which Otago never looked like overhauling on their way to a fifth consecutive winless result.
A 50m solo try 2min before halftime showcased the former seven star's speed and power and effectively sealed the result of match they dominated. Their one try-to-five loss will see the southerners drop from seventh to outside the top eight and on the verge of missing the quarterfinals.
They will need an unlikely victory over competition leaders Wellington in the final round next week to have any playoff chance. Waikato climb from 10th to inside the quarterfinal zone with just their third win but will need victory at home to Taranaki next week in another virtual sudden-death fixture to be safe.
They strolled at will through Otago opponents who missed 19 first half tackles and who struggled for ways to crack the Waikato blitz defence. The intensity between the two Super 14 bases dropped in the second half, with both sides bagging a try each.
Otago have now lost all eight visits to Hamilton since 1995 and never looked like it tonight after conceding four tries in the last 25 minutes of the first half. Messam carried four defenders over the line for his first and juggled out wide before storming over for a second.
Halfback David Bason snared the third after a bust from impressive second five-eighth Jackson Willison before Messam unleashed his magic when picking up a loose ball on the halfway line, busting through the first line of defence and stepping past the cover.
Otago's first-half points came via a wobbly 40m dropped goal to first five-eighth Daniel Bowden, who also converted their only try, a slick 47th minute score by winger Karne Hesketh. Waikato restored order when fullback Sosene Anesi took advantage of quick hands to score a try and Callum Bruce ended the scoring with a late penalty, giving him 14 points with the boot.
Result of an Air NZ Cup rugby match in Hamilton today:
Waikato 39 (Liam Messam 3, David Bason, Sosene Anesi tries; Callum Bruce 2 pen, 4 con) Otago 10 (Karne Hesketh try; Daniel Bowden con, dropped goal). Halftime: 28-3.