The Tasman Mako High Performance side went down 31-24 in a close encounter with their Hawke’s Bay counterparts at the Hutt Recreation Ground today.
Tasman picked up four tries - to midfielders Mike Vaeno and Timoci Tavatavanawai, fullback Jamie Spowart and first five Sam Briggs - two of which were converted by Briggs.
Playing into a strong breeze in the first half, Tasman trailed 24-5. They rallied with the wind behind them to close the scoreline up, but were ultimately undone by a late Hawke’s Bay try that gave the Magpies the win.
Head coach Andrew Goodman described the trip across the strait as a decent workout, “definitely worthwhile”.
“Both teams were evenly-matched. They had a mixture of young club players and a few with NPC experience and played well in patches.”
Goodman was impressed with the efforts of Tasman loose forwards Braden Stewart, Anty Burnett and Taine Cragg-Love. “They were really physical around the breakdown and in the tackle. The loosies all got through a power of work and were strong over the ball.
“[Fullback] Tuli Paea had a couple of nice carries, while Sam Briggs played well for his 40 minutes on the park.”
He said both halfbacks on show, Waitohi’s Saia Takai and new arrival Declan Smith, from Wales, showed some nice touches as they bid to step into the shoes of injured Mako incumbent Jack Grooby this season.
Among the tight five, hooker Sam Moli caught Goodman’s eye with some strong carries. “He has done well in club rugby and improved from last year … plus has put on a bit of size, he was good again today.”
The Hawke’s Bay game was the first of four Mitre 10 Cup warm-up matches, most involving players from the Tasman club scene.
On July 3, Tasman will be back in the capital for a match against Wellington, the Mako’s first opponents when the NPC gets underway on August 10.
On July 27 Tasman will play Canterbury in Hanmer, followed by Otago under lights in Nelson on August 2.
Hawke’s Bay HP 31 Tasman HP 24 (Mike Vaeno, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jamie Spowart, Sam Briggs tries, Briggs 2 con).