BOP Steamers hit top form in Rotorua
It has been many a long winter since a Bay of Plenty forward pack has shunted their Waikato rivals backwards at scrum time.
But on Sunday at the immaculate Rotorua International Stadium, it was the Steamers who bossed their more illustrious opponents around in the set-piece battle en route to an emphatic 40-14 victory.
Following last week’s opening 50-7 win over Ranfurly Shield holders Otago, this is turning out to be a better than expected start to the campaign to gain promotion up to the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership.
Waikato play in that elite division and for the opening 10 minutes looked impressive as they used a strong tail wind to dominate territory and possession.
Brilliant young centre Quinn Tupaea scored after some good build-up work from the forwards which first-five Fletcher Smith converted for a 7-0 lead.
But that was the end of any joy for the Mooloo men as the Steamers got stuck into their work.
The scrum dominated Waikato leading to early penalties and tries to halfback Richard Judd and prop Ross Geldenhuys, for a 14-7 lead.
Dan Hollinshead chipped a penalty over to increase the lead before the try that brought the good-sized Rotorua crowd to life.
Sevens’ star Joseva Ravouvou latched on to a wayward lineout throw from Waikato and beat four defenders on his way to a 65-metre runaway try.
Leading 22-7 at the break with a freshening breeze behind them, the Steamers looked totally in charge and played the second half with plenty of confidence.
Tries to last year’s under-19 star Emoni Narawa and Chase Tiatia closed out the result.
It was a proud day for the Whakarewarewa club with favourite son Clayton McMillan, the Steamers head coach, and Mathew Skipwith-Garland, Baden Wardlaw and Tom McHugh all playing their part in the Steamers victory.
Bay of Plenty captain Aidan Ross was happy to take the win and particularly satisfied with how the forward pack is going.
“It is not every day we get one over our mates Waikato. We will definitely cherish this win and get prepared for next week.
“Set piece is something we like to control each week. We tend to get a roll on at the back end of the season so coming into this season we really wanted to dominate from round one. It is good we have carried that on to this week (against Waikato).”
This Saturday the Steamers take on provincial champions Auckland at Eden Park from 5.05pm in a match set to grab the nation’s rugby attention.