Forget last week’s embarrassment in Albany, the Tasman Makos are back where they belong – at the top of the ITM Cup Championship table.
Perched on 18 points, Tasman have shifted three points clear of old foes Hawke’s Bay after edging them 18-9 in a tough tussle at Trafalgar Park on a blustery Sunday.
Battling into a first half breeze, Tasman were unable to kick for territory and struggled when kicking penalties.
The tactic of keeping the ball in their hands eventually paid off when captain Shane Christie crossed over from the back of a bulldozing maul, as the side trailed 6-5 at half time.
Even with a star-studded backline featuring gun fly half Ihaia West and bad boy winger Zac Guildford, the Magpies struggled to breach the Makos strong defensive line.
Hawke’s Bay would only score its points from Ihaia’s boot, while Tasman was prepared to throw the ball around and charge for the try line.
The home team’s attacking flair was evident in their second try with lock Joe Wheeler galloping down the left flank before chipping ahead for number eight Liam Squire to pounce on, right before crashing into the sponsors signs and a cameraman’s monopod.
Substitute Billy Guyton kicked the conversion, while Tom Marshall was successful with one penalty attempt in the second half.
Speaking after Sunday’s game, Shane was certainly happy to be back at the top of the table and says Tasman’s success stems from the hard work put in during the week. “We’ve just got a good culture and we want to put in the extra yards for each other,” he says.
Even though Tasman scored more points in the second 40 minutes, Shane admits the side failed to capitalize on the wind advantage.
“We had the wind and we just didn’t use it. There were silly penalties and that let them in a wee bit. But we’ll learn from that and move on to the next game.”
And that next game is just around the corner, with Tasman flying up to Whangarei to face Northland on Thursday night.
Northland is currently bottom of the Championship with a meagre eight points.