McLean Park, Napier

The Hawke's Bay Magpies rugby team have turned the corner ... yeah right!

There would be no complaints if Leighton Flanders and his team from the Hawke's Bay branch of DB Breweries erected some Tui signs around the province with these words.

It was another shocker from the Magpies as they were beaten 36-29 by the Tasman Makos in Saturday night's seventh-round Mitre 10 Cup Premiership match at Napier's McLean Park.

More was expected from the Magpies in the wake of their 43-29 victory against Southland in their previous outing nine nights earlier.

It wasn't the result Magpies first five-eighth Ihaia West deserved in his 100th first class outing and more importantly the players from the Magpies 1960s Ranfurly Shield era who attended the game as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations of the shield win against Waikato in Hamilton deserved better.

Woeful defence again proved to be the Magpies biggest downfall. They missed 29 tackles.

Yes, the Magpies did well to recover from a 31-8 deficit to secure two bonus points which could prove critical in their quest to avoid relegation from the Premiership.


But as a disappointed Magpies head coach Craig Philpott said afterwards:

"We should not have had to. We gave them two soft tries when we should have been scoring ourselves. You can't allow a team as good as Tasman to score 24 unanswered points and expect to beat them."

Philpott refused to blame the loss on the pressure the players put on themselves to produce a polished performance for the 1960s Magpies.

He agreed his troops were outplayed at the breakdown.

"Physically, we were well second at the breakdown. Tasman had a different approach at the breakdown and because we had an inexperienced referee [Aucklander Angus Mabey] they got away with things a bit more. We should have adapted better.

"All three of our remaining games are must-win ones now," Philpott said.

The loss added to what was already a tough week for Philpott. His 66-year-old brother David died in Christchurch on Thursday a week after experiencing a stroke.

The Makos produced their best first half of the season as they established a 24-8 halftime lead.

Superb hand-to-hand continuity was a feature of the visitors' first stanza.

TEN MINUTES: Magpies skipper Ash Dixon receives a yellow card for a spear tackle. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
TEN MINUTES: Magpies skipper Ash Dixon receives a yellow card for a spear tackle. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN

Player-of-the-match, No 8 Peter Samu, fellow loosies, captain Shane Christie and Tevita Koloamatangi, hooker Andrew Makalio and second five-eighth David Havili busted the Magpies defensive line ease during the first half.

Experienced lock Alex Ainley's return from injury gave the Makos plenty of grunt in the engine room.

On the few occasions the Magpies retained possession and strung phases together the visitors appeared rattled.

To be fair this mostly happened during the final 10 minutes when the Makos had already banked the five competition points and rolled on their substitutes.

West had a mixed 100th first class outing.

He threw a couple of poor passes which the Makos capitalised on but was at his best when he combined with in-form winger Jonah Lowe to put flanker Trent Boswell-Wakefield away for the Magpies first try in the 15th minute.

Lowe made the most metres in the game with 114 and his 77th-minute intercept try which he converted gave the Magpies their two bonus points.

There were memorable patches from the likes of No 8 Fa'alemiga Selesele, who made 12 carries; lock Mark Abbott, who made 11 tackles and 12 carries; flanker Tony Lamborn, who made 10 carries; and 11 tackles and lock Geoff Cridge.

However more consistency and cohesion is a must if the Magpies are going to avoid relegation.

The missed tackle count isn't the only problem which needs to be reduced.

The 12 turnovers conceded were too many. It's no secret opposing teams will instruct their big ball carriers to run at the likes of West and halfback Brad Weber.

The Magpies loosies need to be urgent when covering any busts down their channels.

Match highlights

Heartstopper: Television match official Bruce Dockary ruling out what appeared to be a try scored by Magpies halfback Brad Weber. It proved to be the correct decision as a Makos defender had got his leg underneath the ball.

Turning point: Makos first five-eighth Marty Banks converted try in the 55th minute which gave the visitors a 31-8 lead. It was always going to be tough for the Magpies to win from here.

Player of the match: Makos No 8 Peter Samu. Made the most carries in the game with 14 and clocked up 102 metres in the process. More importantly ran the right lines and set up his support runners well.

Scorers: Tasman 36 (Tima Faingaanuku, Peter Samu, Kieron Fonotia, Marty Banks, Caleb Makene tries; Marty Banks pen, 4 cons),

Hawke's Bay 29 (Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Tony Lamborn, Jonah Lowe, Jason Long tries; Ihaia West pen; West 2, Lowe cons).

HalfTime: 24-8.