Unbeaten run comes to an end for Mako
By Jonty Dine [Nelson Weekly / Nelson App]
The Mako has lost its first Mitre 10 Cup game since 2018. Photo: Shuttersport
After a 15 game unbeaten run stretching back to 2018, the Tasman Mako have been defeated at the hands of an inspired North Harbour performance.
North Harbour coach Kieran Keane came back to haunt his old side with an historic 40-24 victory at Albany this afternoon.
Little went right for the visiting Tasman team who were at one stage down to 13 men after being decimated at scrum time.
The Mako managed just three tries, two of them intercepts against the run of play as they struggled to find any sort of attacking rhythm.
Mitch Hunt and Bryn Gatland traded penalties to open the scoring, North Harbour taking a 6-3 lead with a strong breeze behind their backs.
Then with Harbour hot on attack, Mark Telea picked off a Gatland pass and went 90 metres untouched to score against his old side.
The hosts enjoyed a sustained period of dominance and cashed in with winger Jared Page dotting down in the corner.
Gatland struck his third penalty right on the siren as his side took a 16-10 lead into the break, the first time Tasman has trailed at halftime this season.
Harbour would continue the momentum after the break, its dominant scrum leading to both Isaac Salmon and Sam Matenga being sent to the bin.
With Tasman under the pump, down to 13 and conceding another three points, Finlay Christie nabbed a second intercept and went in under the bar.
The Mako survived the two man disadvantage but North Harbour stretched its lead when Luteru Tolai rumbled over on the back of a surging rolling maul.
A rare mistake at the back by David Havili handed Harbour a third try to James Little to effectively seal the result for his side.
It was a frantic Mako team desperately searching to keep its record intact in the final ten, but errors plagued the defending champions.
The nail was hammered into Tasman's coffin on the brink of fulltime through replacement prop Teague McElroy as the hosts took maximum points from the stunning scalp.
Captain Havili picked up a consolation try but the Mako had been well and truly out-played by a ruthlessly efficient Harbour outfit.
Tasman maintains its spot atop the Premiership table with Auckland now trailing by just one point.
Next weekend the Mako will host Bay of Plenty at Trafalgar Park in Nelson. Kick off 1.15pm.
Harbour 40 (Jarad Page, Luteru Tolai, James Little, Teague McElroy, tries, Bryn Gatland 4 cons, 4 pens) defeated Tasman 24 (Mark Telea, Finlay Christie, David Havili, tries, Mitch Hunt 3 cons 1 pen)