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Bulls Wary of Wounded Wai-Coa-Bay

August 28, 2014

Pirtek NZRL National Premiership - Bulls Wary of Wounded Wai-Coa-Bay

Canterbury Bulls coach Darrell Coad certainly isn't underestimating rivals Wai-Coa-Bay Stallions, despite their inauspicious opening performance in 2014 Pirtek NZRL National Premiership last weekend.

While the southerners escaped New Plymouth with an 18-12 first-up victory over Central Vipers, the Stallions weren't so lucky, thumped 56-10 by defending champions Akarana in a game that was further marred by a serious leg injury to winger Ryan Gordon.

But despite their contrasting fortunes through round one, Coad expects a backlash when the Bulls visit Huntlyon Sunday.

"We know Wai-Coa-Bay are really passionate about their rugby league up there," he says. "I saw they got beaten fairly convincingly on the weekend, but I haven't read too much into that result.

"They'll be at home for the first time this season, so they'll be looking forward to some good support behind them. We'll be travelling again and we've got a few injuries, so we'll have to prepare well."

Besides the Bulls will remember their 20-16 loss to the Stallions on Monday Night Football last year, a result that decided fourth/fifth spots on the premiership ladder.

And Coad will be mindful that there are still areas of his own team's play that will need to improve. In 2013, they put 82 points on the cellar-dwelling Vipers, so that gap has closed right up.

"We were a bit rusty, to be honest," admits Coad. "Conditions were quite awkward - it was very windy and we didn't get a lot of time to prepare for the game, after arriving just an hour and a half before kick-off.

"We've got a lot of work to do, that's for sure, mainly in self-discipline - good passes, good catches. As a team, we played well, but those one-percenters let us down."

Still, Coad was happy with some individual performers, especially teenaged winger Cyrus Timo-Latu, who crossed for a try and added a tough sideline conversion in the strong breeze.

Meanwhile, Wellington Orcas will look to build on their winning start at home against northern neighbours Central on Saturday, while Counties Manukau begin their season on the road against Northern Swords, after drawing the first-round bye.

The Stingrays went unbeaten through the 2013 regular season, but got tipped up by the Falcons in the grand final.


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