Rugby: Harbour hold on in desperate dance

By Michael Burgess

Tasman 21

North Harbour 28

North Harbour first-five Mike Harris. Photo / Getty Images
North Harbour first-five Mike Harris. Photo / Getty Images

It was the dance of the desperates in Nelson but there was precious little rhythm. With both teams rooted near the bottom of the table the urgency - if not the accuracy - was evident and North Harbour eventually prevailed.

For the first time this season Harbour were ahead at halftime - and a vigorous second-half display when they dominated territory and showed some rare sting in defence saw them hang on to their advantage and move above the Makos on the table.

Harbour went into the match with the second-worst defensive record in the ITM Cup, having conceded an average of 38 points over the last five rounds.

Tasman had been more solid, but since their memorable win over Canterbury they had lost three straight.

After Harbour kicked an early penalty, veteran lock Chris Jack showed great strength to power over from five metres in the sixth minute following a Jack Umaga break.

Seven minutes before halftime and against the run of play, Luke McAlister made a break which led to Harbour's first try.

No 8 Matt Laumanu showed incredible strength to wriggle over despite the attention of five defenders.

The Tasman backline had looked confident from the start, running good lines and looking dangerous despite miserable conditions, with the Marshall brothers prominent.

Despite the driving rain, there were moments of real comedy; Harbour halfback Chris Smylie passing the ball straight to referee Shane McDermott, who took it in the breadbasket; Tasman fullback Tom Marshall being thrown over the sideline by Anthony Boric like a mother ferrying a stroppy toddler and Mako winger James Kamana baffling the defenders - at times stepping so much he seemed to be dodging raindrops.

In the second half Harbour wasted two chances and Tasman reclaimed the lead when Umaga slipped past McAlister and sent James Marshall away. The lead swung before two tries in the last seven minutes sealed the match for Harbour. Steve Alfed's last-minute penalty salvaged a bonus point for Tasman.

Tasman 21 (C. Jack, J. Marshall tries; S. Alfed con, 3 pens) North Harbour 28 (M. Luamanu, N. Tuitavake, J. Tarrant tries; M. Harris 3 pens, 2 cons). HT: 10-13.

- Herald on Sunday

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