Heartland 1 Wanganui 74 West Coast 6
The Butchers start off with a massacre against a West Coast side that had won the last couple v us.
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Here's Ogilvie's match report:
Wanganui made an emphatic statement on the first day of the Heartland Rugby Championship, crushing West Coast 74-6 at Cooks Gardens. David Ogilvie was there:
So far so good..
Pretty good, in fact. After the most comprehensive build-up this union has had in the Heartland Championship, it was expected with some justification that Wanganui would win well today against West Coast.
And that’s precisely what happened on a windy day at Cooks Gardens - a strong forward platform, a well organised defence and some enterprising backline play leading to a 10 tries to one walloping once West Coast had finished its share of flag waving and effort.
Clearly the visitors were nowhere near as fit as Wanganui and as their men started to puff their way into defensive positions, Wanganui started to create and finish try-scoring movements at will, almost.
Remember here that this Heartland competition is using a new scoring system - six points for a try, two for penalties, and eight for a penalty try.
So this win would have equated to a 64-6 win last season - still very dominant.
The win was built on a strong defensive base in the first 20 minutes when West Coast was playing with a strong wind, leading to two superb tries just before halftime for an 18-6 lead and a four try burst in the first 17 minutes of the second half.
Wanganui coach Jason Caskey took his chance to run on his reserves from this point so there was some disruption in the flow of points until they got settled, understandably so.
Overall, pretty good stuff, with no obvious injuries leading into next week’s away match with East Coast, which lost 54-30 to Poverty Bay today but clearly showed some attacking skills.
Powerhouses in the forwards were lock Sam Madams, props Viki Tofa and Tie Tie Tuimaunga, and No 8 Malaki Volou - and when the latter was rested captain Peter Rowe and utility Campbell Hart really stepped up.
The backs settled after some early errors and the combinations handled themselves pretty well, with young second-five Kameli Kuruyabaki proving a real handful with his running. Fellow five-eighths Dane Whale was excellent, and wing Michael Nabuliwaqua is clearly a man who knows how to sniff and score tries - three this time.
Younf fullback Te Rangitira Waitokia also showed nice footwork and got better as the game went on.
The experience of former Super rugby player Craig Clare proved vital as well, his organisation from centre helping his young team-mates.
There will be much tougher games in the days ahead, but this was a very handy start.
In the other matches mst were close, with South and Mid Canterbury coming through for wins and Horowhenua-Kapiti and King Country scoring notable away wins.
At Cooks Gardens:
Steelform Wanganui 74 (Michael Nabuliwaqua 3, Te Rangitira Waitokia 2, Malakai Volou, Gavin Thornbury, Roman Tutauha, Cole Baldwin, Bryn Hudson tries; Dane Whale 6con) bt West Coast 6 (Trent Riti try). HT: Wangnui 18-6.