James Mortimer 07.Aug.2012
The current holders of the Log o’Wood will face Tasman next in a Shield Challenge in their second match of the ITM Cup season, and while their wins over King Country and now Wanganui have had big margins, Taranaki will want to work on aspects pinpointed by captain Willie Richards after the match.
Despite a wealth of possession and territory in the first half, the Amber and Blacks weren’t able to get on top of their rivals, although the second half saw a lift in intensity, as coach Colin Cooper’s message got across, while former All Blacks lock Jarrad Hoeata was colossal up front.
The big lock will eventually be joined by Chiefs lock Craig Clarke, but the Super Rugby winning captain will have a spell out to recover from his well-publicised knee injury, while Chris Smylie and Shane Cleaver will be in the casualty ward as their Ranfurly Shield and ITM Cup campaign begins.
Hurricanes and Chiefs recruits in Jason Eaton, James Broadhurst, Andre Taylor, Beauden Barrett and Scott Waldrom will link up with the squad in the coming days.
Taranaki scored six second half tries to give the score line a flattering look, and Wanganui were able to hold their decorated opposites in the opening 40 minutes, which will ensure that Taranaki have plenty to look at before their opening season clash against Bay of Plenty.
With Tasman their second opponent, and first season proper Shield challenger, Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury will arrive later in the season to have a crack assuming the Naki hold onto the famous Shield as the ITM Cup progresses.