Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Rugby: Tasman smash Otago

Tasman belted Otago 49 to 16.
Tasman belted Otago 49 to 16.

Tasman 49
Otago 16

Shield fever has gone very cold for Otago, who were belted by wonderful long range strikes from Tasman who won 49-16 in Nelson.

The ITM Cup championship division clash piled on the bad news for the southerners, whose Ranfurly Shield delight fell flat in the first defence against Hawkes Bay.

Five days on, they were badly out muscled and enthused, their cause not helped by two yellow cards, the second for an ugly lifting tackle from Super 15 hooker Liam Coltman. A lopsided outcome was simmering in the first half, and hit a boil in the second with Tom Marshall usually the classy orchestrator.

The highlight in the first spell was a blistering run from Tasman left wing James Lowe who stood up little halfback Fumiaki Tanaka and escaped Otago's loose forward cover to set up a long distance try to Shane Christie. It was like a step back in time, watching a winger beat his man like that, even if the Japanese import was not strictly Lowe's man.

Otago were down to 14 men at the time, their left wing Keiran Moffat having been sin binned by the other Japanese influence, referee Akihisa Aso, for a mid air tackle.

The zero to hero moment was provided by Otago fullback Buxton Popoali'i. It was Keystone Cops time as a bouncing ball sailed over his head, but he produced a mighty recovery to rob No. 8 Huia Tevita Koloamatangi of the ball over the tryline.

Tasman had a 20 - 13 lead at the break, but probably deserved better. Tasman's scrum crushed Otago's on occasion, and they held an edge elsewhere, but the visitors stayed in touch.

Tasman found a ruthless attacking edge to ram home their advantages in the second half, finishing with another stunning try initiated by Marshall. Tasman have a powerful set piece foundation and a well controlled attack that probably marks them as the championship favourites.

Tasman 49 (James Lowe 2, Liam Squire, Shane Christie, Huia Tevita Koloamatangi, Mitchell Scott tries; Marty Banks 5 con, 3 pen)
Otago 16 (Craig Miller try, Hayden Parker 3 pen, con). HT: 20-13.

- NZ Herald

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