Mako fall short in Hanmer pre-season match with Canterbury
By Jonty Dine [Nelson Weekly / Nelson App]
A pre-season clash against Canterbury provided a last chance for fringe Mako to push their case for selection last week.
With plenty of new faces in the mix, the Mako displayed its enviable depth as the side put up a stern challenge against the Ranfurly Shield holders.
A late try would give the Mako a shot at a draw, but the conversion attempt proved unsuccessful.
Despite the 19-17 result, Tasman will take plenty of positives out of the Hanmer Springs loss.
Canterbury would open the scoring through winger Chay Fihaki as the red and blacks enjoyed a dominant opening period.
After conceding early territory and possession, the Mako eventually found its rhythm through some powerful ball running from the likes of Sione Havili and Timoci Tavatavanawai.
The momentum soon turned to points as Alex Nankivell powered over in the left hand corner.
Following repeated infringements, Canterbury skipper Luke Romano was sent to the sin bin and the Mako took full advantage of the extra man with Nankivell running a deceptive line to go in for his second, just before halftime.
Still down to 14-men, Canterbury struck first after the break through Mitch Gibson to square it up at 12-all.
Canterbury would regain the lead shortly after courtesy of a stolen lineout and strong carry from Bill Fukofuka.
With time running out, the Mako needed a spark as Andrew Goodman cleared the bench.
Replacement halfback Louie Chapman provided it as he burst up the middle of the park, linking with Tima Faingaanuku.
Tima threw a huge wide pass to Tavatavanawai who was far too strong five metres from the chalk.
The try gave Tasman the chance to tie things back up, however O'Malley pushed the difficult conversion attempt wide as Canterbury retained the Hamner Springs Trophy.
Mako co-head coach Goodman said "it was a really good hit-out for the boys ... just to play at that next level of intensity before we head up to Counties [for the Mitre 10 Cup opener on Saturday, September 12] was really important.
"Some of the defensive work, especially from set piece was outstanding. Overall they played well in patches, but also showed they have plenty to work on, which was always going to be the case."
Goodman said a couple of players took their chance today to put their hand up, including winger Tavatavanawai, Nankivell, Fetuli Paea at fullback, No 8 Hugh Renton, in his first game for Tasman and replacement loosie Braden Stewart.
Canterbury 19 (Fihaki, Gibson, Fakafaka, tries Cameron 2 cons) def Tasman 17 (Alex Nankivell 2, Timoci Tavatavanawai, tries, Tim O'Malley 1 cons)