Rugby: Tasman draw with Auckland at Eden Park

By Campbell Burnes

James Lowe of the Tasman Makos is tackled during the round three ITM Cup match between Auckland and Tasman at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images
James Lowe of the Tasman Makos is tackled during the round three ITM Cup match between Auckland and Tasman at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images

Auckland 16
Tasman 16

The Tasman Makos have made history.

It wasn't quite the history they wanted, but they have drawn at Eden Park for the first time.

This ground may be a fortress for the All Blacks, but it is no easy feat to lower Auckland on their ground either.

The last defeat was on July 20, 2011 in a midweeker to Otago. They have now reeled off 13 wins and a draw on the bounce here.

This one was hardly aesthetically pleasing, before a paltry crowd of around 2000, but Auckland will be kicking themselves for not finishing off a second half where they gained the ascendancy. Simon Hickey missed a long-range penalty goal after the siren.

Tasman's first try went to hooker Quentin MacDonald after Auckland channelled their inner Keystone Cops in the in-goal area. Charlie Piutau put Steven Luatua under pressure by accidentally kicking the ball and Luatua miscued his clearance in the tackle.

MacDonald, a former Blues hooker, pounced.

The Makos slowly started to get their game going, lock Joe Wheeler prominent in their short inter-passing, and their scrum was holding up, where transplanted Aucklander Siua Halanukonuka gave a good account of himself against Charlie Faumuina.

Auckland, conversely, was long on endeavour but short on cohesion. They missed touch from a penalty, and often seemed to operate as individuals. They did get jiggy early by having Piutau join the first lineout, but nothing came of it.

Auckland were far more energised in the second spell, but with that energy came errors, knock-ons the most prevalent. They did make incisions, and Simon Hickey made one clean break which should have yielded a try. There was just a lack of precision and class, for which Auckland sides were once famous.

Luatua made up for his earlier error by diving over in the corner after the midfield of Francis Saili and George Moala had combined well on the short side. Then the pack started to exert some control to go with the staunch defence. Peter Saili, Sean Polwart, William Lloyd and Luatua were the best in a useful forwards effort.

Auckland now have a Saturday afternoon date with the struggling Wellington Lions at Eden Park, while Tasman host Waikato in Nelson on Friday night.

Auckland 16 (Steven Luatua try; Simon Hickey con, 3 pen)
Tasman 16 (Quentin MacDonald try; Marty Banks con, 3 pen) HT: 10-3 Tasman

- NZ Herald

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