Waimate battles Harlequins but comes up just short

Richard Ford chips infield after a scything run against Harlequins

Richard Ford chips infield after a scything run against Harlequins

Harlequins remain unbeaten after a gutsy 25-18 win over Waimate at Alpine Energy Stadium.

Harlequins scored four tries to Waimate’s two, but coach Ken Wills said his side was a “work in progress”.

“It was good we came up against Waimate at this stage of the competition, they play a really strong physical game. We’ve been trying out a few new combinations. I think we’re just about there,” he said.

Harlequins dominated possession and territory in the first half to lead 15-3. Maile I’Ongi side-stepped the Waimate defence to score in the corner in the 12th minute, while No 8 Sam Vea came off the back of a ruck to set up blindside flanker Josateki Veikune, who ambled through the defence to score under the posts shortly afterwards.

The lead stretched to 20-3 in the 54th minute once Vea – busy throughout the match – finished a set move with a floated pass to second-five Izaac Edwards, who scored in the corner. Waimate had their opportunities in the first half, but some sloppy lineout play and inconsistent kicking proved their undoing.

Yet their forwards were solid, and No 8 Blair Morris deservedly scored after he breached Harlequins’ defence in the 64th minute.

The match see-sawed during the last quarter, until Harlequins’ Vea picked up a sloppy Waimate kick to score in the 75th minute, securing the win and the bonus point.

Yet, with a minute to go, Waimate winger Ben Johnstone scored a runaway intercept try. It was an unexpected end to a spirited match. For Harlequins, Vea and Veikune combined well throughout, while flanker Richard Ford was Waimate’s standout player, particularly on defence.

Waimate coach Paul Henshaw was philosophical about the result.

“We had a few players nursing minor injury niggles, I’d say the team were pretty worse for wear by the end of that match,” he said.

“We played pretty well, it was just some silly errors that let us down.”

Waimate take the field against Harlequins at Alpine Energy Stadium

Waimate take the field against Harlequins at Alpine Energy Stadium led by captain Matt Hayman