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Match Report : West Coast 26 v 36 Mid Canterbury

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Mid Canterbury’s unbeaten run extended to four matches on Saturday with a 36-26 win over West Coast at Rugby Park in Greymouth.

Two tries from wing-turned-centre Seta Koroitamana and the accurate boot of first five Ewan Scott proved the difference as the Hammers continued their quest for an unprecedented three-peat.

The Coasters collected a bonus point by scoring four tries to Mid Canterbury’s three, but referee Liam Scanlon dished out a slew of early penalties to Grant Keenan’s side and Scott claimed 21 points in all.

Scanlon, frustrated by West Coast’s continual offending, sent loose forward Dylan Nel and halfback Nick Makea to the sin-bin to restrict the home team to 14 players for much of the first half.

stand12915Koroitamana sliced through West Coast’s defence at will, and wings Gideon Lambrechts and Ashton Tuck also proved too elusive for their opponents.

Imposing lock Maikeli Mudu dominated the lineouts and also featured in several strong midfield bursts, while flankers Scott Vessey and Jon Dampney were prominent throughout the contest.

Coast first five Nik Cumming scored two classy tries and kicked three conversions for a personal tally of 16 points, but the home side’s lack of discipline proved costly.

The game was just 20 seconds old when Scanlon first penalised West Coast, and within the first 14 minutes the penalty count was 6-0 in favour of Mid Canterbury, with Scott slotting three of them for a 9-0 lead.

Mid Canterbury shot to a 16-0 lead when Koroitamana made a mockery of Coast’s midfield defence. He charged through after the Hammers chose to scrum on the Coast 22 from Scanlon’s seventh penalty, which saw Makea dispatched to the sin-bin to replace Nel, who had just been allowed back into the game.

The Coasters, guilty of aimless kicks and sloppy handling, never really threatened the defence until the 35 minute mark when busy centre Kevin Moore broke through before lock Francis Auwerda burst on to a short pass and ran 30m to the try line.

Cumming’s conversion closed the gap to an unlikely nine point deficit at 16-7, but Mid Canterbury soon restored order when Coast second five Andrew Connors turned the ball over in a tackle and Koroitamana again cut loose to race 55m to score under the posts.

Scott’s conversion extended the score to 23-7, but Cumming single-handedly closed the gap to 23-14 just before halftime by selling a dummy to scythe through and score, before adding the extras.

The Coasters attacked early in the second spell, ignoring chances to close the gap to six with easy penalty kicks but then coming up short when the lineout drives were repelled or Mid Canterbury lock Mudu stole the ball.

Another Scott penalty pushed the visitors out to a 26-14 lead before Cumming, flirting with the offside line, intercepted the ball near halfway and sprinted to the goal line.

His conversion went wide but Coast were back in the hunt until Scott knocked over another penalty to put Mid Canterbury up 29-19.

A try to wing Ashton Tuck, and Scott’s conversion from wide out, pushed the lead out to 36-19, but Coast had the final say when strong runs from lock Brad Houston and substitute wing Jason Wright produced a try for fullback Josh Costello, which Cumming converted for a 36-26 score.

Mid Canterbury thought they had added a bonus point to their haul late on as replacement halfback Tomasi Mavea crossed over, but the try was disallowed due to a forward pass in the build-up.

Mid Canterbury coach Grant Keenan said he was pleased with the amount of opportunities his side created, and praised Scotsman Ewan Scott for a fine display at first five in the absence of Murray Williams.

“We created a number of scoring opportunities, we didn’t take them all but it was good that we created them,” he said.

“It was a good effort, we’re happy with the four wins.”

The Hammers will host East Coast at the Ashburton Showgrounds in week five.

– By James Ford and the Greymouth Star
Monday, September 14th, 2015