Bold showing for Makos B
Story by: Wayne Martin - The Nelson Mail - Photo by: Evan Barnes / Shuttersport
Another battered Canterbury team headed back south at the weekend as Tasman B made an emphatic start to their South Island representative rugby programme.
Tasman's 53-22 seven-try win over Canterbury Country at Trafalgar Park on Saturday was the ideal starting point for their campaign - often in spite of themselves. With the Tasman Makos having despatched Canterbury on Friday night in a stirring ITM Cup upset, Tasman B looked set to follow their lead early in Saturday's contest.
But despite establishing a 21-3 advantage after just 30 minutes following tries to first five-eighth James Lash, No 8 Fetu Havili and to halfback Shaun Begg, frustrating errors and a loss of structure began to encroach on an otherwise willing contest.
Some loose passing, resulting in mishandling and constant stoppages, contributed to a scrappy first half as Tasman struggled to fully assert their obvious dominance.
Tasman coach Gary Stevens was satisfied with the result, if not enamoured with the execution at times, and was prepared to cut his players some slack after a limited buildup. The squad had only come together following the previous weekend's Seddon Shield match in Blenheim.
"It was a bit rough but it was a good start really," said Stevens.
"I can't complain about the result. There was just a little bit of disruption, I guess, coming together at the last minute, but we got there.
"The tempo of game that we normally play, the boys were quite excited and we lost quite a bit of structure quite early on. And because we were scoring tries at regular intervals, the structure never came back. I'm not disappointed, I think we just need to sharpen up on that stuff."
A try to Canterbury Country wing Peni Manumanuila just before the break helped keep the visitors in touch 21-10 at halftime, wing George Millar extending Tasman's lead to 28-10 with an 80m intercept try shortly after the restart.
Then Country hooker Tony Illson scored in the corner to remind Tasman they were still in a contest, before further Tasman tries to Millar, from a 15m intercept, and to locks Riki Hoeata and Ben Sadrugu put them out of reach at 53-17. Manumanuila added his second try for Country with around six minutes remaining to end the scoring.
At times, Tasman looked impressive when they were able to string phases together and sustain some continuity. Lock Jarrod Aberhart was a key figure in Tasman's forward effort, effective in both general play and set phases, with No 8 Fetu Havili another to impress with his penetrative ball carrying.
Anonymous during the first half, Hoeata also stepped up significantly in the second half to play a prominent role, including his bullocking try with 13 minutes remaining. Skipper Begg and Lash, with 23 points, controlled the operation, despite the team's frequent loss of structure.
Country were industrious enough, with hooker Illson, halfback Michael Sheet and fullback Willie McGoon among their more willing competitors, but lacked the capacity to ever seriously threaten Tasman's overall dominance.
Tasman's next match is against Canterbury Metro in Christchurch next Saturday.
Tasman B 53 (George Millar 2, James Lash, Fetu Havili, Shaun Begg, Riki Hoeata, Ben Sadrugu tries, Lash 6 cons, pen, drop goal) Canterbury Country 22 (Peni Manumanuila 2, Tony Illson tries, Jess Alford 2 cons, pen) Ht 21-10.