In his 50th game for Hawke’s Bay, Ihaia West inspired the Magpies to a bonus-point 43-29 win over Southland in a crucial Mitre 10 Cup cross over clash in Invercargill.
After suffering five straight defeats since being promoted to the Premiership, the Magpies needed a win over Southland to have any chance of avoiding relegation but took 60 minutes to get on top of a spirited Southland side.
With the score at 22-22 with a quarter to play, West sparked the Magpies with three late tries to secure the vital win while Southland missed out on a losing bonus point to stay anchored to the foot of the Championship ladder.
It was a villain to hero performance from West who was yellow carded on the stroke of halftime to gift Southland a 12-10 lead at the break.
After struggling to break through the Stags stoic defence in the first half despite enjoying 75% of the possession, the Magpies came out of the blocks in the second half to make it 22-12 early in the half. The first try was from a lineout drive close to the line with skipper Ash Dixon the recipient. The second was a crowd pleaser with Jonah Lowe dancing down the side line before throwing a fancy off load to fullback Matt Garland to score.
Southland rebounded with a fifth penalty to sharp shooter Wharenui Hawera and try to replacement prop Peni Ravai to square up the game before Ihaia West took control.
In a clutch play to regain the lead, West executed the perfect cross kick for Mason Emerson to score in the corner. After a well worked try to Tony lamborn, West was in the action again as he scored in the corner from a Southland error. The Stags added a late try to close the gap but it wasn’t enough to secure a bonus point.
For Southland, they have a short turnaround before facing Bay of Plenty in Invercargill on 21 September while Hawke’s Bay host Tasman on September 24.
Hawke’s Bay Captain Ash Dixon said: “The last 4-5 games we haven’t been coming out of the sheds good enough at halftime so we really wanted to come out of the sheds and play in the right area of the park tonight.”
SOUTHLAND – 29
Tries: Peni Ravai (58),Tauasosi Tuimavave (75)
Penalties: Wharenui Hawera (3,22,36,40,49)
Cons: Wharenui Hawera (59), Tauasosi Tuimavave (75)
HAWKES BAY – 43
Tries: Brad Weber (12),Ash Dixon (41),Matt Garland (44),Mason Emerson (64), Tony Lamborn (69),Ihaia West (72)
Penalties: Ihaia West(39)
Cons: Ihaia West (12,65,71,74),Tiaan Falcon (45)