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Waaka’s wow factor spurs Clifton

Monday 15 April 2013
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Teenage playmaker Beaudein Waaka announced his arrival in Taranaki club rugby with a commanding performance as Clifton racked up a big win over Inglewood on Saturday.

The 19-year-old former Gisborne Boys’ High School star scored a try, kicked four conversions and three penalties for a personal haul of 22 points at the Camp Reserve as Clifton won 42-27.

His performance was about a lot more than just points, however.

The former New Zealand schools rep got his side into prime field positions, orchestrated his backline with authority, defended strongly and was responsible for the turning point of the game when he cleverly read an Inglewood attacking pass, intercepted and scampered 80 metres to score.

Having missed the opening round with a shoulder injury, the Taranaki Rugby Academy member was as influential as coach Ian Snook had hoped for, not that he was prepared to say much about his new recruit.

“I’m not saying anything good about him but you can write it,” Snook said after the match.

Intercept tries are often game changers and Waaka’s 35th minute effort was no exception.

Up until then the Inglewood supporters would have been happy with what they saw.

Their side was stretching the opposition without doing anything spectacular and it seemed only a matter of time before they broke the 6-all deadlock.

Waaka’s effort had a stunning impact, though, as Clifton lifted, got on the front foot, earned a penalty right on halftime and came back from the break eager to throw the ball around, attack the breakdown and start scoring some points.

Tries to prop Zane Neal, Nemia Soqeta and Tana Blackburn saw the score blow out to 35-6.

It would have been a lot worse, too, had Avon Lewis not come off the bench for Inglewood to score a double and bring some respectability to the situation.

“We were a bit hesitant to start,” Snook said. “We had to build into it but they played really well after halftime. They lifted up after halftime, held on to the ball and showed they really wanted it.”

Snook was impressed with the leadership of some of his “older players”, which had allowed him and assistant coach Paul Martin to take a back seat in what was an important occasion for the club as they returned to the reserve for the first time in 19 years.

One of those “older players” must be Soqeta, who has the ability to lift his side through inflicting damage to the opposition, whether it is a rattling tackle or a barnstorming run. Sure, he makes a few errors but any player would rather have him in their side than in the opposition.

While Waaka was impressive, he got great service from halfback Hamuera Baker, while Matt White was also good in a hard-working pack.

Inglewood’s best by some distance was flanker Berny Hall, while fellow loose forward Mitch Brown had some good moments.

Elsewhere, defending champions Coastal bounced back from their opening round loss to beat Stratford 20-7 at Stratford.

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The game was in the balance late in the second half when Stratford reserve hooker Evan Dickson was denied a try, because of a double movement, although many thought he was hard done by.

Stratford coach Chris Drummond was not using it as an excuse, however, saying his side made too many mistakes and failed to take their chances.

He was impressed with the work of No 8 Todd Curtis and centre Zac Taitoko.

Coastal coach Joe Lawn was reasonably happy with the progress of his side from the previous week and their defence. He singled out wing John Julian for his performance.

New Plymouth Old Boys showed Southern they have plenty of work to do to reach their level after a convincing 27-3 win at Vogeltown Park.

Old Boys attacked well in the first half to open up a 20-3 lead at the break and defended with authority in the second half to stop the visitors scoring as Southern dominated possession.

Old Boys coach Tony Earl was impressed with the workload of lock Richard Beckett, while second five-eighth Ross Allan made a number of telling line breaks.

Southern coach Willie Rickards was less frustrated at the loss than he was with his side’s win over Clifton last week.

He believes the signs were positive, their structure was good and they created opportunities; they just have to be more clinical in their play, especially their finishing. Greg Rowlands impressed at first five-eighth, as did lock Jon Smyth.

Tukapa joined Old Boys as the only other unbeaten team following a scrappy 14-6 win over Spotswood United at Yarrow Stadium. New Tukapa No 8 Mitchell Croswell impressed again in a side that made plenty of mistakes to keep Spotswood United in the game.

Spotswood United coach Michael Collins said his side defended a lot better than they had the previous week but struggled to build phases.

Another No 8, Iopu Iopu, showed plenty of class in his debut.

AT A GLANCE

Clifton 42 Inglewood 27

NPOB 27 Southern 3

Coastal 20 Stratford 7

Tukapa 14 Spotswood Utd 6

Credit: GLENN MCLEAN