Jonah Lowe scores in the first half for the Magpies. Photo / Connull Lang
By Thomas Airey
Magpies captain Tom Parsons is disappointed his team weren’t able to give Hawke’s Bay a win to be proud of in tough times for the region.
They lost 35-38 against Bay of Plenty on Saturday evening at McLean Park in the charity match dedicated to residents affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and contributors to response and recovery.
Parsons said that on Friday the team had spoken directly with members of the Puketapu community who described what they went through in February, so motivation for the game was high.
Hawke’s Bay started well, scoring two tries inside the opening 10 minutes with efficient play on attack and defence.
The lock said that had been a focus in training with the Magpies forced to play from behind in a lot of games this season.
“We’ve been wanting to get in the game early and have the ball in our hands more.”
Bay of Plenty responded strongly and took their first lead at 17-15 in the 36th minute.
Shortly after, second five eighths Seamus Bardoul was yellow carded for a head high tackle and a minute before he was due to return openside flanker Veveni Lasaqa received a straight red for a similar offence with no mitigation.
However in the 29 minutes they spent shorthanded, the visitors outscored Hawke’s Bay 21-8.
Tom Parsons said Bay of Plenty upped their physicality for that decisive stage of the match
“The middle period of the second half cost us too much with missed tackles and them getting their tails up,” he said.
“We always know that we can play but we need to play a little bit earlier than that to stay in the game.”
Indeed the Magpies came home with a wet sail with Ollie Sapsford scoring twice in the final 10 minutes to set up a nailbiting finish.
Hawke’s Bay built 26 phases all the way to the tryline after the siren, but thinking referee Cameron Stone was signalling a penalty advantage for a deliberate knockdown opted for a grubber kick.
However the advantage was for a knock-on only and with no time to set the scrum the Magpies’ comeback fell short.
Kicking turned out to be the wrong decision but a sizeable missed tackle count was a bigger factor in the loss.
“It’s a little bit of a trend at times; when we miss we seem to miss big and it’s hurting us at the back end of games there,” Parsons said.
“If someone misses we need to be there to have his back and put the next one to the ground.”
The captain said he’s confident in his team’s systems on both sides of the ball.
“In phases today our [defence] was really, really good and the boys tackled well but it’s just in moments, the lapses in concentration, we miss one then we miss three in a row after that.”