Rugby: Tumultuous Tasman edge past Northland

By Niall Anderson

Northland player Phil Kite runs it straight against Tasman. Photo / Photosport
Northland player Phil Kite runs it straight against Tasman. Photo / Photosport

Tasman's tumultuous Mitre 10 Cup season continues.

The Makos have put in mixed performances in their opening five games, an inconsistency that was prevalent in their 33-23 victory over Northland at Trafalgar Park.

Tasman will be thankful for the four points, but perhaps less pleased with the performance against a side whose losing streak has stretched to 714 days.

The opening 20 minutes of the contest was perhaps the worst football played in the competition this season. Errors flowed at a turnover-a-minute rate, with the two sides showcasing poor passing and sloppy handling.

It took 22 minutes for the scoreboard to finally tick over in the form of a Tevita Koloamatangi try, which kick-started the clash's evolution into a match resembling rugby.

Marty Banks was Tasman's talisman, with the first five setting up two tries and providing huge value with the boot, nailing all six kicks at goal.

That boot had guided the hosts out to a 20-0 lead, but his opposite Dan Hawkins began to also strike the ball accurately in conditions which deteriorated in the second spell.

Considering there were 16 handling errors in the first half, the prospect of slipperier conditions was a frightening one, but ball retention improved as points started to flow.

Despite missing experienced campaigners due to injury, Northland threatened to snap their losing streak, with a Kara Pryor intercept try dragging the deficit back to four points.

Just as the Taniwha tasted the prospect of a first victory since 2014, Banks' boot again proved pivotal with a superb penalty in the blustery wind followed by a simpler attempt from in front of the posts to seal the win.

Banks' efforts were aided by Tima Faingaanuku, who put in a powerful performance for Tasman on the wing, beating six defenders, while Pryor was again a standout for Northland with a game-high 65 metres and 18 tackles.

Tasman now have three wins from their five encounters, and their playoff mettle will truly be tested over the next three weeks. Fellow Premiership sides Hawke's Bay, Counties Manukau and Auckland are next up on the schedule for the Makos - games which will determine whether Leon MacDonald's men will make the semifinals for the third straight season.

Tasman 33 (Tevita Koloamatangi, Quinten Strange, Shannon Frizzell tries; Marty Banks 3 con, 4 pens)
Northland 23 (Matt Matich, Kara Pryor tries; Dan Hawkins 2 con, 3 pen)
Halftime: 20-7

- NZ Herald

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