Andrew Goodman, Clarke Dermody
Shane Christie, Gray Cornelius
The Tasman Mako recorded back-to-back Premiership triumphs — the first province, other than Canterbury, to repeat since Auckland in 2002–03. But the 2020 victory was achieved in very different style to that of 2019, in which the Mako carried all before them with staunch defence and clinical attack. This time they dropped three matches, badly, and their final winning average was 27–19, down from 37–11.
For all that, the group will be immensely satisfied at going to Eden Park and clinching the final, 13–12 over Auckland, even if the match itself will not live long in the memory.
After a smooth first three outings, the Mako’s 15-match win streak came to a crashing halt against North Harbour, before heavy defeats to Auckland and Canterbury raised questions about a potentially soft underbelly. But the Mako rallied, tightened their set-piece and lent on some key players at big moments, such as versatile skipper David Havili, whose first three goals of the season came in the decider, to go with his season-high six tries.
The best displays were the solid home wins against Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty. In all, they scored the try scoring bonus point in five games, down from eight in 2019. While the coaching staff was unchanged, there were some considerable player losses and offshore signings, including Jordan Taufua, Liam Squire and Hugh Roach in the pack. Loosehead props Wyatt Crockett and Tim Perry hung up the boots.
Injuries also prevented Atu Moli, Ethan Blackadder and Paripari Parkinson from taking the field.
The four All Blacks — Shannon Frizell, Will Jordan, Tyrel Lomax and Sevu Reece — played limited but telling roles at the start of the Mitre 10 Cup. Reece, shifting from Waikato, was one of several big signings. Lock Alex Ainley returned from a season with Bay of Plenty to offer experienced cover at lock and became the second Mako to raise the century since their 2006 inception. Centre Kieron Fonotia and hooker Quentin MacDonald both returned after several seasons abroad and did solid jobs.
Wing Mark Telea signed from North Harbour and scored two tries in 11 games but was not as dazzling as he was for the Blues. Prop Isi Tu’ungafasi transferred from Northland and was strong on the loosehead side of the scrum, never more so than in the final, where he got the better of All Black Angus Ta’avao.
Lock Quinten Strange missed the first half of the campaign with injury, which also ruled him out of the All Blacks, but he stood up when it counted in the playoffs.
A feature of the season was that four Mako — Finlay Christie, Mitch Hunt, Alex Nankivell and Andrew Makalio — all passed the 50-game milestone.
Fullback Havili was as reliable as ever, with an eye for a gap or counter-attack opportunity, a big boot and safe under the high ball. He scored a hat-trick against Waikato and played a marvellous captain’s knock in the final. Havili is unlucky that New Zealand rugby is flush with top fullbacks or he would surely be in the All Blacks.
Leicester Faingaanuku was the most penetrative back, scored five tries and was one of three to start all 12 games.
Fetuli Paea was again solid at centre, stood out on the final and won a Highlanders contract.
Until he broke his hand, Alex Nankivell was probably the best No 12 in the competition, still the glue for this Mako backline. First-five Hunt goal kicked well and proved capable but was not as dominant as in 2019. Christie was again sparky at halfback.
The pack stood up when it mattered, led by industrious loose forward Sione Havili. Former NZ Schools captain Anton Segner was brought on slowly, and he showed promise. Hugh Renton made big strides at No 8 or No 6 in his first full season of provincial rugby after years of injuries. Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta was top value at lock and surprisingly missed a full Super Rugby deal, while former All Black Isaac Ross acted as second row cover later in the season.
Hookers Andrew Makalio and MacDonald shared seven tries from lineout drives.
New Zealand: Shannon Frizell, Tyrel Lomax, Sevu Reece, Will Jordan (# 1191).
NZ Under 20: Leicester Fainga’anuku
North Island: Sevu Reece, Mitchell Hunt
South Island: Will Jordan, Shannon Frizell, Tyrel Lomax, Finlay Christie, Leicester Fainga’anuku
Moana Pacifika: Leicester Fainga’anuku, Fetuli Paea, Dwayne Polataivao
NZ Sevens: Tone Ng Shiu
[Source –2021 Rugby Almanack]
TASMAN MAKO 2020 MITRE 10 CUP DRAW
| Home Game|
|1||Counties Manukau|| Pukekohe||Sat 12 Sep, 7.05pm||W||41-24|
|2||Northland||Blenheim||Fri 18 Sep, 7.05pm||W||54-21|
|3||Waikato||Nelson||Sat 26 Sep, 2.05pm||W||34-17|
|4||North Harbour||Albany||Sun 4 Oct, 2.05pm||L||24-40|
|5||Bay of Plenty||Nelson||Sun 11 Oct, 1.15pm||W||33-07|
|6||Auckland||Auckland||Sat 17 Oct, 4.35pm||L||10-31|
|7||Southland||Nelson||Sun 25 Oct, 2.05pm||W||47-10|
|8||Wellington||Wellington||Sat 31 Oct, 2.05pm||W||19-03|
|9||Canterbury||Blenheim||Sat 7 Nov, 7.05pm||L||00-29|
|10||Otago||Dunedin||Sat 14 Nov, 4.35pm||W||26-20|
|11||Semi Final - BOP||Nelson||Sat 21 Nov, 7.05pm||W||19-10|
|12||Final - Auckland|| Auckland||Sat 28 Nov, 6.35pm||W||13-12|
Game 1 [W] – Sat 12 Sep, 7.05pm—v Counties_Manukau — Pukekohe
Counties-Manukau 24 – Tasman 41 (Tries: Andrew Makalio 2, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Leicester Fianga’anuku, Shannon Frizell; Mitch Hunt 2 pen, 4 con; Tim O’Malley 1 con). HT: 17-21.
Game 2 [W] – Fri 18 Sep, 7.05pm – v Northland - Blenheim
Tasman 54 (Sevu Reece 3, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Andrew Makalio, Fetuli Paea, Will Jordan, Jacob Norris tries; Mitch Hunt 5 con, Tim O'Malley 2 con) - Northland 21. HT: 19-7
Game 3 [W] – Sat 26 Sep, 2.05pm – v Waikato – Nelson
Tasman 34 (David Havili 3, Andrew Makalio, Alex Nankivell tries; Mitch Hunt 1 pen, 3 con): - Waikato 17. HT: 13-5.
Game 4 [L] – Sun 4 Oct, 2.05pm – v North Harbour – Albany
North Harbour 40 – Tasman 24 (Mark Telea, Finlay Christie, David Havili tries; Mitch Hunt 1 pen, 3 con). HT: 16-10.
Game 5 [W] – Sun 11 Oct, 2.05pm – v Bay of Plenty – Nelson
Tasman 33 (Leicester Fainga’anuku 2, Mark Telea, Sione Havili, Blair Princep tries; Mitch Hunt 4 con) – Bay of Plenty 7. HT: 12-7.
Game 6 [L] – Sat 17 Oct, 4.35pm – v Auckland – Auckland
Auckland 31 - Tasman 10 (Alex Nankivell, Quentin MacDonald tries). HT: 24-0.
Game 7 [W] – Sun 25 Oct, 2.05pm – v Southland – Nelson
Tasman 47 (David Havili 2, Fetuli Paea 2, Taina Fox-Matamua, Mitch Hunt, Sione Havili tries; Mitch Hunt 4 con; Tim O’Malley 2 con) – Southland 10. HT: 7-3.
Game 8 [W] – Sat 31 Oct, 2.05pm – v Wellington – Porirua
Tasman 19 (Sione Havili, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta tries; Mitch Hunt 3 pen) - Wellington 3. HT: 11-0.
Game 9 [L] – Sat 7 Nov, 7.05pm – v Canterbury - Blenheim
Tasman 0 - Canterbury 29. HT: 0-17.
Game 10 [W] – Sat 14 Nov, 4.35pm – v Otago – Dunedin
Otago 20 - Tasman 26 (Tim O’Malley, Quinten Strange tries, Mitch Hunt 2 con, 4 pen). HT: 10-13
Game 11 [W] – Sat 20 Nov, 2.05pm – v Bay of Plenty – Nelson
Tasman 19 (Quentin MacDonald, Leicester Fainga’anuku tries, Mitch Hunt 3 pens) Bay of Plenty 10. HT: 13-7
Game 12 [W] – Sat 28 Nov, 7.05pm – v Auckland – Auckland
Auckland 12 – Tasman 13 (Quentin MacDonald try; David Havili 2 pen 1 con). HT: 9-10.
Played 12 I Won 9 I Lost 3 I Drew 0 I Points for 320 I Points Against 224