The Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team will be relying on Waikato beating or drawing with Otago on Saturday if they are to host a Mitre 10 Cup Championship semifinal next week.
The Magpies have been forced into sweat mode after failing to secure any competition points when beaten 29-0 by the Tasman Mako in tonight's 10th round crossover clash at Nelson's Trafalgar Park. As the score suggests the Magpies were outclasses by an outfit which has won their last six games and are destined to host a Premiership semifinal.
Hawke's Bay have not beaten Tasman since 2009.
The Magpies had more possession and the territorial advantage during the first 15 minutes. However poor ball control in the wet conditions let them down.
But it was pleasing to see the visitors try stuff. Second five-eighth Danny Toala contributed well in his first starting XV appearance.
Hawke's Bay were unlucky not to score in the 22nd minute when flanker Devan Flanders made a break and his pass to captain and halfback Brad Weber was intercepted by Tasman winger Tima Faingaanuku. Tasman also created a couple of scoring opportunities but were let down by the last pass.
The Mako opened the scoring in the 26th minute when first five-eighth Mitch Hunt kicked a long range penalty following a Magpies infringement at scrum time. The Magpies scrum often struggled against a Mako unit led by former All Black prop Wyatt Crockett, the hosts captain.
Mako lock Pari Pari Parkinson, who was full of authority at lineout time, scored the only try of the first half in the 40th minute. It was converted by Hunt and it followed relentless pressure from the hosts engine room and a spectacular break from winger Tomas Aoake.
While the Premiership outfit deserved their 10-0 lead at halftime the Magpies were unlucky not to have points on the board. They definitely tried and had four try-scoring opportunities.
Flanders in particular was busy and lock Michael Allardice had a high defensive workrate in his 50th appearance for the Magpies. While his team enjoyed 55 per cent of the territory their 10 handling errors were costly.
It only took two minutes before the hosts scored in the second half through second five-eighth Tim O'Malley who ran a superb line. While the Mako were able to capitalise on their few opportunities their defence was top shelf too.
Hunt and halfback Finlay Christie were outstanding on defence for the Mako and it was Christie who shut down the Magpies in the 59th minute and forced them over the touch line after the visitors had retained possession for 14 phases.
By the 64th minute the Magpies had conceded 20 turnovers - far too many even in these conditions. Hunt crawled his way to a try in the 68th minute after good continuity and quick ball. He added the conversion to put the hosts ahead 22-0.
Superb patience from the Mako led to substitute halfback Jack Grooby's bonus point try in the 75th minute. Hunt again slotted the conversion.
Magpies substitute prop Mark Braidwood provided quality impact off the subs bench and when fellow prop Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe took the field as a late sub he became the sixth and final member of last year's national title-winning Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV to play first class rugby this year.
"It was one of those nights when we couldn't get anything going. We created enough opportunities in the first half but missed the final pass and were unable to apply scoreboard pressure," Magpies head coach Mark Ozich lamented afterwards.
Ozich pointed out his troops struggled with the interpretations of Wellington referee Mike Fraser at scrum time.
"We did not get the rub of the green and the experience of Crockett painted a picture which wasn't there. As a result our platform was always under pressure. It was a good learning experience."
Heartstopper: When a pass from Magpies flanker Devan Flanders to captain and halfback Brad Weber was intercepted in a try-scoring situation by Mako winger Tima Faingaanuku in the 22nd minute.
Turning point: When Tasman second five-eighth Tim O'Malley scored his try in the 42nd minute to give the hosts a 15-0 lead. It was always going to be tough for the Magpies from here in these conditions.
Player of the match: For the Magpies flanker Devan Flanders. Several lines breaks and a huge defensive workrate. For Tasman first five-eighth Mitch Hunt - 14 points including four from five attempts at goal, outstanding tactical play and a high defensive workrate.
Scorers: Hawke's Bay Magpies 0, Tasman Mako 29 (Pari Pari Parkinson, Tim O'Malley, Mitch Hunt, Jack Grooby tries; Hunt pen, 3 cons). HT: Mako 10-0.