Reward at last for a hard-working Bay of Plenty when at their fourth attempt the won their first game of the Mitre 10 Cup season, beating Northland 52–25 at Rotorua on Friday.
They showed in their last outing against Otago that they were finding their mettle and Northland, who have now lost five from five, felt the brunt of their pent-up frustration in a powerful display.
Bay of Plenty put their lineout to good use, especially when in Northland’s 22m area. They scored their first try six minutes into the game when flanker Jesse Parete rumbled over from a lineout resulting from a penalty choice to kick to the corner.
Then in response to a long period of build-up in which Northland retained the ball, winning several penalties in succession to maintain pressure, the visitors scored when lock Josh Goodhue took the ball at first receiver and quickly moved it on to wing Waisea Lawebuka who crossed the goal-line untroubled after 20 minutes.
Northland extended their lead courtesy of a penalty goal by first five-eighths Peter Breen but in the 30th minute good ball from a Bay of Plenty lineout saw first five-eighths Kelly Haimona chip a kick just over the Northland defenders and second five-eighths Terrence Hepetama raced through to take the ball and touch down.
A decisive moment in the game came in the moments after the restart when Northland blindside flanker Tom Robinson took Hepetama in the air and was sin-binned. Bay of Plenty kicked to the corner, won another lineout and after Hepetama broke the line at speed, the ball was moved with Haimona feeding Parete into the gap for his second try.
A minute into the second half, Northland suffered another blow when Bay of Plenty No.8 Joe Tupe appeared out of the middle of a driving lineout maul to score the bonus point try for Bay of Plenty.
Then no sooner had Robinson restored the Northland side to 15, lock Shane Neville was ruled to have impeded yet another lineout maul and a penalty try was awarded by referee Michael Lash.
Halfback Sam Nock wasn’t prepared to concede to Bay of Plenty and when he got the chance he played a tap penalty and ran around from the blindside into the open and fed a flying Lawebuka and he broke through the tackle of Hugh Blake and ran in beneath the posts to score.
However, Bay of Plenty had the bit between their teeth and they stormed back onto attack with some powerful running at close quarters to the goal-line and it was Tupe who ran a fine angle who got over for his second try.
Northland were forced to throw caution to the wind and in that mode they conceded their seventh try when replacement lock Shahn Eru took an intercept and fed fullback Isaac Te Aute who put his speed to use down the left flank to race in for an impressive try.
Northland finished strongly and had some consolation when replacement Matt Talaese drove over from a ruck to score.
Bay of Plenty 52 (Jesse Parete 2, Terrence Hepetema, Joe Tupe 2, penalty try, Isaac Te Aute, Te Rangi Fraser tries; Kelly Haimona 5 con; Te Aihe Toma con)
Northland 25 (Waisea Lawebuka 2, Matt Talaese tries; Peter Breen con, 2 pen, Hawkins con)