In their final defense of the season, the Hawke’s Bay Magpies got the better of Waikato in a physical and frantic encounter in Napier, with the hosts outlasting the challengers to take a 41-14 win.
A second half onslaught from the hosts saw the score line blow out after Waikato got the better of the first half, with the visitors finding themselves on the wrong end of a slew of penalties and, having emptied their bench earlier in the half, fatigue setting in.
Before the match even started, Waikato were having troubles as first five-eighth Fletcher Smith pulled up with an injury in warm ups and instead moved to the bench. Then, in the first play of the game, Waikato halfback Xavier Rowe was injured after taking a heavy hit from Hawke’s Bay winger Jonah Lowe.
The first play of the game really set the tone for the night. Hawke’s Bay No10 Lincoln McClutchie put up a floating kick-off, allowing time for the chaser to get there as it landed. Roe was the unfortunate one to be underneath it, and was hit as he tried to move it on.
The ball hit the deck and led to a scramble, which saw Hawke’s Bay come away with it and deep inside opposition territory. That led to the opening try of the game, with hooker Jacob Devery scoring in classic Hawke’s Bay fashion – from the back of a lineout drive.
Waikato hit back just minutes later in similar fashion, before Hawke’s Bay midfielder Danny Toala sparked a break in the middle of the park and was the benefactor two phases later.