Mako bounce back against Bay of Plenty
By Jonty Dine [Nelson Weekly] & Peter Jones [Marlborough Weekly]
Leicester Faingaanuku on his way to score one of his two tries against Bay of Plenty at Trafalgar Park on Saturday. Photo: Shuttersport.
The Tasman Mako responded to its first loss in two years with a statement at Trafalgar Park on Sunday.
The Mako ran in five tries in trying conditions for a 33-7 win over Bay of Plenty to well and truly bounce back from last week’s shock North Harbour defeat.
Consistently put under immense pressure, Tasman put on a defensive clinic. The team fiercely defending its line to concede only one try, despite Bay of Plenty’s wealth of territory and possession.
Hooker Andrew Makalio led the Mako resistance while Jacob Norris put in a tireless performance at blindside and David Havili sent another timely reminder of his quality to All Black selectors.
A steady downpour greeted the two teams who were meeting for the first time in five years.
There was a late change for the hosts as Tyrel Lomax was called across the Cook Strait for national duty, replaced by Sam Matenga.
The Mako would strike a little over five minutes in as Leicester Faingaanuku found himself with acres of space in front and sprinted away for the opening try.
After a prolonged period of sustained pressure with no reward, the Steamers finally opted to cash in on dominance by taking a shot at goal but Otere Black hit the uprights.
A frustrated Bay of Plenty remained scoreless and its woes were compounded when Alex Nankivell pounced on a loose pass and found speedster Mark Talea outside for Tasman’s second try.
The visitors would finally convert its weight of field position into points as Black floated a superb pass to Chase Tiatia who went in under the bar, right on the stroke of halftime to trail 12-7.
Tasman reasserted its authority after the break with a quick tap by Finlay Christie setting his side on attack.
The livewire halfback linked with skipper David Havili who, following a typically jinking run, found Faingaanuku for his double.
Things got worse for the Steamers when Tiatia was sent to the bin for taking out a Tasman jumper in the air.
The hosts then claimed the bonus point in emphatic fashion, blowing Bay of Plenty’s scrum off its own ball and Sione Havili capitalising from the back.
With the result in the bag, coach Andrew Goodman gave former All Black lock Isaac Ross his debut for the Mako while returning fan gavotte Kieron Fonotia also made his way onto the park.
Another replacement in Blair Prinsep picked up his first try in Mako colours as the big prop used the wet surface to slide over from close range.
Co-head coach Andrew Goodman was happy with how the team bounced back after their previous performance.
“I’m stoked to get a response, it wasn’t always pretty but you could see the attitude was where it needed to be. There was a lot of improvement in our defense which we have been working on during the week.
Tasman face a stern challenge next weekend as they head to Eden park to take on Auckland.
Tasman 33 (Leicester Faingaanuku 2, Mark Talea, Sione Havili, Blair Prinsep tries, Mitch Hunt 4 cons) def Bay of Plenty 7 (Regan Ware try, Otere Black 1 con)