wasn't pretty, but the Tasman Mako sealed their spot in the Mitre 10 Cup semi
finals with a gritty 29-0 bonus point win over Hawke's Bay in atrocious
conditions at Trafalgar Park tonight.
BY PETER JONES [Marlborough App] AND
JONTY DINE [Nelson App]
are assured of hosting a semifinal in Nelson next week after taking maximum
points and regaining top spot in the premiership.
try either side of half time helped the Mako hold off a brave first half
challenge, before adding two late touchdowns to grab a welcome bonus point.
Coupled with this was the host's dogged defensive effort, which kept the
sides struggled to control possession but it was the visitors who got the
better of the opening exchanges.
of territory early on, the Mako finally opened the scoring through a Mitch Hunt
penalty after 27 minutes of sloppy footy.
the siren sounded on a dreary half, in-form lock Pari Pari Parkinson muscled
his way over the chalk for the game’s opening try.
dominating field position during the first 40, Hawke's Bay were unable to get
on the board, the Mako taking a 10-0 lead into the break.
Mako then struck immediately after oranges, Tim O'Malley running a superb line
off Hunt to stretch the advantage to 15.
then put the result to bed with 10 to play, the mercurial fly half crawling his
way through the defence to slide in under the sticks.
Jack Grooby claimed the bonus point for Tasman, the little half back sneaking
over after 25 phases of relentless attack.
opponents next week will either be Canterbury, if Auckland are able to move
ahead of Tasman in the overall standings, or the fourth-placed qualifier if
Tasman remain on top.
coach Leon MacDonald said he was "really happy” with the result,
especially given a few mitigating factors. "We didn’t get the rub of the
green with the elements … we played into torrential rain and wind in the first
half, then it died in the second and we didn’t get the benefit then either.
we ground them down and although we made a few mistakes as would be expected in
those conditions we were able to strike just before halftime which was
was some pretty intense attack from Hawke’s Bay too, but we managed to hold on
there and finish the job with some momentum at the end, so it was a very
slumps have marked a few of the Mako’s recent encounters so it was particularly
pleasing to see the bench come on this week and provide a noticeable lift.
Grooby was outstanding tonight,” said MacDonald. "We have got an
outstanding half in Fin Christie but to bring someone like Jack on who can
speed the game up the way he does is exactly what we want from our nine.
"Ray Niuia was also outstanding off the bench … and our reserve props got
a scrum penalty, so that impact was something we have been working hard to
Mako defence was outstanding, as the scoreline suggested, with the inside backs
leading the way. Christie, Hunt and O’Malley made a series of crucial tackles
in the first spell as the Magpies threatened to get over the line.
also made mention of a rookie, a speedster and a veteran. "Mike Curry was
fantastic, worked all day and grew in confidence. I’m thrilled for him and it
gives us some more depth in a position we are light in.
"Tomas [Aoake] is also starting to find his feet – he brings something
different on attack and is very courageous.”
Ainley, in his first outing for the season, got through 80 minutes, no surprise
to MacDonald who joked that the team hadn’t got any minutes out of the seasoned
campaigner this year so were making the most of it.
"He gets grumpy when he gets substituted and just loves this sort of wet
weather arm wrestle. It was great to see him back on the field.”
Mako 29 (Pari Pari Parkinson, Tim O'Malley, Mitch Hunt, Jack Grooby tries, Hunt
3 cons, 1 pen) Hawke’s Bay Magpies 0. HT: 10-0.
Standings (all teams except Tasman have a game to play): Tasman 43,
Auckland 41, Canterbury 37, Wellington 29, North Harbour 29, Counties Manukau
16, Taranaki 13.