Whanganui too strong for Poverty Bay

By James Perry

Whanganui have been perennial champions in the Heartland Championship competition. And yesterday they showed their championship qualities shutting out Poverty Bay 53-0 in Gisborne. 

The 3 time defending Heartland Championship winners kept the home side Poverty Bay scoreless while running in 8 tries.

Whanganui's Campbell Hart says, "Got to be happy if you keep a team to zero, so really proud of that defensive effort." He also says it's good that some of the moves they have been working off this year paid off.

Poverty Bay captain Tamanui Hill indicated that maybe his side was too complacent before the match, "[Whanganui were] champions last year, and they definitely showed today why they're champions, and we can't treat a team like that lightly."

Poverty Bay started the game at Rugby Park well, stringing together phases, however, it only took one error for the tide to turn.

Whanganui's first try coming shortly after a Poverty Bay turnover. Hart said their plan was to try and gain some forward momentum, before spreading the ball to their speedy backs. 

After a while, that plan seemed to work, with left wing Cameron Crowley scoring two first-half tries, and impressive right wing Harry Symes crossing for one. 

Throughout the game, Poverty Bay was made to fight for every meter of territory, before turning over the ball, where Whanganui would suddenly find themselves back in scoring range.

However, Hart says it wasn't that simple. He credits their attitude in defense in a big part of the romp.

"They were big boys when they got running, but we pride ourselves on our defense and we're working hard on our systems and that kind of came to the fore today."

Poverty Bay came back into the match in the second half. It was too little, too late, however, Hill says there was enough improvement in the second half for his team to be proud with. 

"There's a lot of negatives in there, but there's a lot of work on."

With the win, Whanganui moves to the top of the Heartland Championship, ahead of King Country on points differential. Poverty Bay on the other slip down to 9th on the ladder with their second consecutive loss. 

Poverty Bay go back to the drawing board in preparation for their clash against West Coast in Greymouth next week.

Meanwhile, Whanganui will host fellow top-4 side Mid-Canterbury in Whanganui.