BOP Steamers off to flying start

Mathew Skipwith-Garland in action v Otago. Photo: Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

As opening games go in the Mitre 10 Cup it does not get much better than Bay of Plenty’s 50-7 win over Otago in Tauranga on Sunday.

The Steamers scored the lowest number of tries in the championship division last year but ran in eight against a hapless Otago side that had absolutely no answer.

Bay of Plenty play Waikato at Rotorua International Stadium this Sunday at 4.35pm. Waikato began their campaign by tipping over Canterbury on Saturday so this clash in Rotorua should be a classic encounter.

The victory over Otago all started up front with the Chiefs front row of captain Aidan Ross, All Blacks hooker Nathan Harris and Jeff Thwaites completely outplaying their opposites.

The rest of the Steamers starting pack of locks Baden Wardlaw and Aaron Carroll and loosies Hugh Blake, Mitch Karpik and Abraham Papali’i contributed to a top class performance.

Ranfurly Shield holders Otago dominated the opening 10 minutes with nothing to show for it before the Steamers capitalised on their scrum strength to force a pushover try to No 8 Papali’i.

From a smart lineout move featuring hooker Harris, the Steamers set up attacking ball that Whakarewarewa midfielder Mathew Skipwith-Garland made use of to cut through. Two rucks later flanker Karpik scored and on 15 minutes it was flying left winger Fa'asiu Fuatai who scored with a spectacular dive into the left corner.

Ross finished off a great half for the Bay when he crashed over under the bar to give his team a convincing 26-0 lead at halftime.

Otago showed more fight at the start of the second half but a wayward pass was picked off by All Blacks Sevens player Joe Webber who sprinted 60 meters for a popular try.

Down 33-0 Otago managed to get on the board through a converted try but there was to be no miracle comeback.

Tries to replacements Luke Campbell and Jason Robertson and a second to Fuatai finished off the 50-7 rout – the first time Bay of Plenty have reached 50 points against Otago in 41 matches played.

The three Whakarewarewa players in the Bay squad all got valuable game time.

Second five Mathew Skipwith-Garland was strong and decisive on attack, hardworking lock Baden Wardlaw had one of his finest games in the Steamers jersey while replacement prop Tom McHugh helped continue the dominance of the powerful Bay of Plenty scrum when he replaced captain Aidan Ross.


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