Classy Taranaki beat BOP

Getty Images     26 Aug 2012     Getty Images

It kept alive a six-year winning sequence for Taranaki in this fixture and gave the visitors a bonus-point competition start, with a Ranfurly Shield defence looming against Tasman next week.

All Black first-five Beauden Barrett, who broke Bay of Plenty hearts by kicking nine penalties last year, again starred by scoring 22 points, including a crucial 50m intercept try just after halftime.

Barrett's try came as the home side launched a promising counter-attack with a breeze at their back and facing 14 men, with Taranaki replacement Willie Rickards in the sinbin.

By the time Barrett latched onto Nick McCashin's wayward pass, galloped away untouched to score and added the conversion, Rickards was back in the match and Bay of Plenty were out of it.

Taranaki captain Jason Eaton even crashed over out wide as the siren sounded to secure the fourth try bonus point, with Barrett slotting the tricky conversion.

"We're happy to get a win, though we only played well in patches and we need to work on our 80-minute performance before next week," Eaton said.

Bay of Plenty's effort showed merit but lacked polish. They scored three tries but with first-five Chris Noakes nursing a sore groin and unable to kick, they shelled several chances at goal in the first half.

Barrett kicked two early penalties before Bay of Plenty wing Lelia Masaga capped a sweeping 50m movement with a try.

Taranaki lock James Broadhurst replied soon after, crashing over from close range to get the lead back, before wing Waisake Naholo scored a dazzling 45m try 5mins from the break.

The New Zealand Sevens player stepped through the Bay midfield and danced past the cover to cap a solid first spell by the visitors.

Bay of Plenty finally sparked some life with 15mins left, when Luke Braid and Tanerau Latimer combined to send Jamie Nutbrown away, with lock Culum Retallick on hand to crash over in the corner.

Replacement first-five McCashin added the conversion to make it 27-15 and Masaga again sparked a counter-attack, setting up replacement Lance MacDonald for a try but Eaton had the last say.

Taranaki 37 (J.Broadhurst, W.Naholo, B.Barrett, J.Eaton tries; Barrett 4 cons, 3 pens) Bay of Plenty 22 (L.Masaga, C.Retallick, L.MacDonald tries; N.McCashin 2 cons, K.Lynn pen) HT: 20-6