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Tasman XV downs Manawatu in pre-season

BY PETER JONES [Marlborough App]

A Tasman Mako XV showed their pre-season preparation is coming together nicely with a decisive 47-15 win over their Manawatu counterparts in Porirua today.

With their Mitre 10 Cup campaign kicking off on August 17 against Canterbury, the 2017 runners-up gave their build-up a timely boost with a performance coach Leon MacDonald described as "a good win in the end”.

The Mako led 21-5 at the break and ran in seven tries overall while showing defensive resilience to limit their opponent’s opportunities.

"Overall we are pretty pleased with how we fronted”, said MacDonald. "Our defence was outstanding. We held them out with good maul defence close to our line on three or four occasions.

"We created a lot in attack as well so we were pretty happy with both our attack and defence.”

A few players put their hands up for selection in the Mako squad for the NPC campaign, including former North Harbour hooker Ray Niuia.

"Ray had an outstanding game … his throwing was good and he gave us some really good go-forward with his ball carries,” said MacDonald.

"Vernon Fredericks stepped up a notch and looked like the Vernon we are used to seeing in the Mako jersey. That was really pleasing. Jed Brown was also good, he’s really fitting into the group well, on and off the field.”

MacDonald was also impressed with the 70-minute effort of fullback Will Jordan, the 2017 Mako standout becoming a late inclusion in the team, plus fellow pacy outside back Jamie Spowart.

He said while it was a heartening effort there was still plenty of work to be done before the cup competition kicks off.

"A lot of the players had their moments but it wasn’t a perfect performance – we blew three or four good chances, making line breaks then seeing passes go over the touchline or behind the support players. There’s still plenty to be done around cohesion.

"The group is changing continually. We have players like Will [Jordan] coming in at the last minute and our Super players will be coming back in at different times.”

The Mako’s final pre-season game is against Wellington in Renwick on Thursday, August 9, with a 2pm kick-off.

MacDonald expects to have the Super rugby players from the Highlanders and Chiefs back for that clash, their participation on Thursday dependent on their season’s workload so far.

Scores: Mako XV 47 (Tries to Caleb Havili, Will Jordan, James Hawkey, Nick Foxley, Willie Havili, penalty try, Jesse MacDonald, six conversions) Manawatu XV 15. HT 21-5.