Waikato has been humiliated in New Plymouth; being held scoreless for the first time in 30 years as Taranaki ran away to a dominant 41-0 victory.
Five converted tries and two penalties from a superior Taranaki side embarrassed Waikato all night long.
It was the first time the Mooloos have been held scoreless in a match since 1985; a year that most players in the Waikato squad were not even born.
Waikato’s chances of making the finals of ITM Cup have taken a major hit as Taranaki continue their impressive fight back in the premiership.
Co-captain Brad Weber withdrew from the match with illness, and his leadership was greatly missed.
Taranaki got out to an early 3-0 lead thanks to the boot of Codey Rei after Josh Hohneck was penalized for a high tackle as Waikato defended early.
Damian McKenzie didn’t quite have enough distance on a penalty attempt from halfway after Taranaki’s first scrum collapsed. Taranaki looked dangerous in the midfield, but a lapse in communication between Marty McKenzie and Seta Tamanivalu cost Taranaki a chance to score against a stretched Waikato defense.
Regan Ware was denied a try off his first touch when the referee went upstairs to check if their had been a knock on.
Replays showed that the loose ball had bounced off the knee of a Waikato player, despite no hands being involved, it was ruled a knock on and Waikato were forced to sacrifice their try.
Rei extended Taranki’s lead to 6-0 after Waikato were penalized for offside.
Sparking a counter attack on the halfway line, Taranki had the Waikato defense on its heels and a kick ahead made the bounce critical. A poor effort to snap up the ball saw Charlie Ngatai find the ball in his hands and the centre had enough to power over for Taranaki’s first try.
Rei converted and Taranaki were out to a 13-0 lead.
With two minutes remaining in the half, Taranaki had an attacking lineout and a strong breakaway off the throw saw Waikato scramble to their line. Tamanivalu took the ball from the back of the breakdown and reached over to score.
Rei converted and Taranki lead 20-0 at halftime.
Taranaki kept the head on after the break, and when Waikato turned the ball over they were pushed over their own goal line to hand Taranaki an attacking scrum.
Angus Ta’avao scored Taranki’s third try and the game was quickly becoming beyond the visitors. Rei converted and Taranaki led 27-0.
The game was becoming increasingly agro with fights beginning to breakout, Loni Uhila was cautioned for punching Charlie Ngatai, and the two brothers on opposing teams Damian and Marty McKenzie were becoming increasingly feisty off the ball.
Stephen Donald entered the field for Waikato at the 53rd minute, continuing his return to NZ Rugby after four years away.
Sean Wainui scored Taranaki’s bonus point try after an aimless kick from McKenzie set Tamanivalu in space before the handoff. The score was 34-0 and Waikato was now playing to try and get a single point on the board.
Waikato turned the ball over for the 18th time as one of their worst performances in history continued.
Hika Elliot put the icing on the cake, powering over the line with his teammates pushing him on, and Taranaki rounded out one of their best ever performances, beating Waikato 41-0 at Yarrow Stadium.
Waikato will play Canterbury next Wednesday in Christchurch.