Bay of Plenty 25 - 28 Waikato, ITM Cup
Steamers relegated after loss to Waikato
October 5, 2013
Date/Time: Oct 5, 2013, 14:35 local, 01:35 GMT
Venue: Baypark Stadium, Mount Maunganui
Bay of Plenty 25 - 28 Waikato
Half-time: 15 - 12
Tries: Bardoul, Nemani, Sole
Cons: Ripia 2
Pens: Ripia 2
Tries: Willison
Cons: Renata
Pens: Renata 7

Desperation breeds a fearless attitude that can present itself in any of the 22 players that take the field. For Waikato, it was the return of their captain that saw them come from behind for the first time this season to register a 28-25 victory and condemn Bay of Plenty to relegation in the process.

Jackson Willison's late try deflated the hearts of their Bay of Plenty opponents; 22 players all united in the disappointment that they will be playing Championship rugby in 2014. While it looked as if two former Waikato players in Josh Sole and Johan Bardoul would come back to haunt their former province, it was a staunch Waikato leader that got them over the line.

The loss was a sad indictment on a season riddled with final-quarter capitulations for the men from the Bay of Plenty. By contrast, the victory was one that required all 80 minutes for Waikato, who staved off a brave effort to ensure they will remain in the Premiership in 2014.

The victory was a stunning turnaround for Waikato, which no less than four days earlier suffered an embarrassing 28-64 defeat at the hands of Championship side Tasman. The change in mindset from semi-final aspirations to Premiership survival provided the visitors with the desperation they needed to overhaul their dejected opponents.

The upside to the result for Waikato, their third victory of the season and first when trailing at half-time, is that it provided the young, dynamic side with an introduction to tough, grinding, spirit-filled rugby. Despite picking up a bonus point, the defeat means Bay of Plenty's final match of the season, against Northland, will be nothing more than a battle of the bottom-placed teams in each division.

Bardoul was superb for the Steamers, with the flanker securing a key restart as well as his first-half try. He certainly outshined substitute Queensland Reds loose forward Beau Robinson, whose 65th minute penalty allowed the visitors to close within four points. It was another costly penalty for Robinson, whose last-minute penalty gifted Counties Manukau a 31-30 victory.

Waikato were offered superb service from the back of the ruck from scrum-half Brad Weber, but aside from goalkicking ace Trent Renata, the visitors were without any real attacking threats for the opening three quarters of the match.

With a wind behind their back it was Bay of Plenty that should have capitalised with an early territorial advantage. They were, however, let down by some poor handling and even poorer discipline in crucial moments of the opening half. Renata capitalised with four first-half penalties that gave Waikato a slender 12-8 lead after the first 35 minutes. However it was Bardoul who silenced the travelling fans with his second ITM Cup try to give the hosts a three-point lead at the break.

Bay of Plenty made the perfect start to the second half, with wing Tino Nemani's scoring to stretch the lead beyond a converted try. All of a sudden their season looked salvageable. But just as they looked to have gained a significant hold of the match, it would be another simple error - this time from the ensuing kick-off- that allowed Waikato back into the match.

Ripia's second penalty of the afternoon restored a 10-point buffer with 30 minutes to play as Waikato went searching for their season. And boy did they find it. Penalties in the 61st and 66th minutes reduced the deficit to four points, while Willison's late try, converted by Renata to give him a 23-point haul, sealed the home side's fate.

© Sportal

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.