Tasman’s big names have stepped up to start their defence of the NPC Premiership title with a 27-14 win against Bay of Plenty in Tauranga.
Veteran hooker Quentin MacDonald helped himself to two second-half maul tries after the Mako lead 13-6 at the break, and the likes of All Blacks prop Tyrel Lomax, No 10 Mitch Hunt, Mark Telea and Leicester Fainga’anuku then showed their class to hand new Steamers coach Daryl Gibson a loss in his first game in charge.
However, lock Pari Pari Parkinson was the standout for Mako in an 80-minute shift. He controlled the airspace above Tauranga Domain, showed his huge strength in contact, and powered Tasman’s scrum in an impressive display.
The giant Highlanders lock has the frame to dominate at NPC level, and if his first-up performance is anything to go by he is set for an influential campaign.
For the Steamers, classy Maori All Blacks wing/midfielder Sean Wainui was excellent on debut, while Kaleb Trask enjoyed some good moments.
However, as conditions deteriorated during the second half, the Mako pack simply rolled up its sleeves and controlled the set-piece contest.
Workhorse No 8 Hugh Renton also contributed strongly on both sides of the ball, carrying on his strong Super Rugby form.
The opening 40 minutes were scrappy.
Bay of Plenty scored the game’s first try when halfback Luke Campbell trotted through a huge hole close to the line after a sustained spell of pressure in the first half.
However, both teams struggled to find their rhythm in windy and wet conditions in Tauranga.
The rusty nature of the first half was highlighted when the Steamers blew a golden chance to extend their 7-6 lead after 34 minutes.
After a nice break and offload from Sean Wainui, flanker Mitch Karpik failed to find his wing Leroy Carter in space with the try line begging.
However, the final five minutes of the half finally saw some running rugby, with Fainga’anuku and Telea prominent for the Mako.
That combination linked up just before the break to set up Tim O’Malley for a try under the sticks.
The Steamers hit back through Wainui early in the second spell after a lovely wide pass from Trask, but Parkinson and his mates up front then grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, and refused to let go.
Tasman 27 (Tim O’Malley, Quentin MacDonald 2 tries, Mitch Hunt 3 cons, 2 pens) Bay of Plenty 14 (Luke Campbell, Sean Wainui tries, Kaleb Trask 2 cons). HT: 13-6
MVP Points: 3 Pari Pari Parkinson (Tasman) 2 Leicester Fainga’anuku 1 Sean Wainui (Bay of Plenty)