Mako tame Bulls in New Plymouth
By Jonty Dine [Nelson App]
It was a brutal and bruising encounter but the Tasman Mako will walk away from New Plymouth still unbeaten and with another five points.
The Mako showed plenty of composure to break down the resolute Taranaki defence, scoring four tries in a hard fought 28-18 victory.
It was the Mako's fourth successive win to kick off its Mitre 10 Cup campaign as they sit comfortably atop the premiership table.
A pair of pinpoint accurate kicks by the halves sparked the Mako's first try, Finlay Christie's box kick finding the arms of Leicester Faigaanuku before Mitch Hunt sent a cross to Tima Faingaanuku who was too strong close to the chalk.
The Mako then conceded two penalty goals and the lead as both sides suffered casualties due to the
Sione Havili looked to have scored a second for the Mako but was denied due to a double movement, however the visitors went over moments later through Andrew Makalio on the back of a surging maul.
With Taranaki racking up over a hundred tackles, the hosts' defence began to wane and the Mako looked to pile on more points before the break.
In a carbon copy of his first try, Faingaanuku was again the beneficiary of a deft Hunt cross-kick as the Mako took an 18-6 halftime lead.
A resurgent Taranaki side came out of the sheds firing with a superb try to reduce the lead to five.
Though with the injection of Shannon Frizell and Jordan Taufua the Mako would soon score the bonus point in cheeky fashion.
Following a sustained period of pressure, Christie sneaked the ball on the line from the base of a ruck.
Taranaki wouldn't lie down however, as All Black Waisake Naholo, who had been largely anonymous to this point, went over to make it a ten point game with 15 to play.
Both sides had opportunities to finish in style but couldn't convert with the fiercely physical encounter ending in another Mako victory.
Tasman 28 (Tima Faingaanuku 2, Andrew Makalio, Finlay Christie tries, Mitch Hunt 1 cons, 2 pens) defeated Taranaki 18 (Lachlan Boshier, Waisake Naholo tries, Waite 2 pens, 1 con)