Sat, Sep 23, 2023 6:37 PM
An uninspiring first half, coupled with a lack of composure in the final stages, saw Tasman come up just short, losing 30-28 to “big brother” Canterbury in their NPC clash in Christchurch this afternoon.
Down 27-13 at the halftime break the Mako rallied superbly to score twice and close the gap to just two points in the final, exciting stages. However, they were unable to bridge that gap, through a combination of resolute Canterbury defence and muddled thinking in the key moments.
Most of the first half was a hard watch for Mako fans. The home side booted a couple of early penalties, exited well whenever Tasman managed to get into their half and demonstrated more aggression, accuracy and rugby smarts.
Their first try came after 16 minutes, livewire loosie Tom Christie being sent over in the corner.
Soon after Taine Robinson landed a penalty for the Mako, but Canterbury were in rampant form, winger Manasa Mataele scoring a try from a lineout move, although he appeared to come from inside the 10m zone, then fellow winger Solomon Alaimalo bagging their third in the 33rd minute.
Although they lost in-form centre Alex Nankivell to injury in the latter stages of the half, the Mako managed a late and much-needed revival.
Fullback Macca Springer scored their first try, which Robinson converted, in the 37th minute, then landed a penalty to narrow the gap to 27-13 at the break, a closer scoreline than Tasman deserved given their ill-disciplined effort in the first 40. One of their main issues was a dysfunctional lineout, which saw hooker Feleti Kaitu’u taken out of the game for veteran Quentin MacDonald after just 33 minutes.
Canterbury began the second spell as they started the first, kicking long and accurately and pressurising the visitors at the breakdown. However this time the Mako fought back. Winger Timoci Tavatavanawai began the second half surge, sliding in at the corner. Robinson converted, then scored a try of his own, missing what would prove a pivotal conversion.
Burke scored Canterbury’s only second half points from the tee, before Robinson replied, reducing the margin to two once more and setting up a frantic climax to an enthralling match.
Tasman claim a bonus point out of the match, scant reward for a stirring fightback, but they will be well aware that allowing Canterbury a 27-3 lead is unlikely to ever end well.
Their best were loosies Anton Segner, Seta Baker and Max Hicks, prop Kershawl Sykes-Martin, halfback Noah Hotham, Robinson and Springer.
Scores: Canterbury 30 (Solomon Alaimalo, Manasa Mataele, Tom Christie tries, Fergus Burke 3 pen, 3 con) Tasman 28 (Macca Springer, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Taine Robinson tries, Robinson 3 pen, 2 con) HT: 27-13