Tasman squeeze past Waikato

Date published: September 5 2014

A late Ciua Halanukonuka try secured Tasman a 23-16 victory over Waikato in their ITM Cup encounter in Nelson on Friday.

A late Ciua Halanukonuka try secured Tasman a 23-16 victory over Waikato in their ITM Cup encounter in Nelson on Friday.

Halanukonuka barged over from close quarters at a ruck, on Waikato's try-line, after Tasman had set up more than 20 phases in the build-up to his try.

The five-pointer was a fitting end to a highly entertaining match played in front of an appreciative crowd.

Both sides deserve credit for making it an enterprising affair and keeping the game in the balance until its dying moments.

The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides showing a willingness to run the ball from all areas of the field.

Tasman's exciting play was rewarded when Robbie Malneek opened the scoring with a superb solo effort in the fourth minute.

Malneek joined the Tasman back-line at pace, just inside Waikato's half, and was soon on the edge of the visitors' 22. He then beat Albert Nikoro with a change of speed before scoring in the right-hand corner.

Marty Banks converted and added a penalty shortly afterwards to give Tasman a 10-0 lead after Jordan Payne strayed offside on defence.

Waikato struck back with a penalty from Damian McKenzie in the 11th minute but for the rest of the half nothing seemed to be going right for the Mooloo men.

On the half-hour mark, McKenzie drew in a couple of defenders before offloading to Declan O'Donnell, close to Tasman's try-line, but O'Donnell lost the ball as he was diving over.

Banks cancelled out McKenzie's penalty with another three-pointer and Waikato came close to scoring again in when their captain Brad Weber was tackled in front of Tasman's try-line by Liam Squire.

He threw an inside pass, which went to ground but Tasman's scrambled to prevent Adam Burn from gathering the loose ball and scoring.

Banks then gave Tasman a 16-3 lead on the stroke of half-time, when he slotted another penalty but Waikato launched a superb fightback in the second half.

O'Donnell made up for his first half blunder when he crossed over for his side's only try, in the 47th minute, after running on to a Joe Webber pass just outside the home side's 22.

McKenzie added the extras and added two further penalties which made the score 16-16 by the hour mark.

The rest of the half saw both sides having a crack at each other's line, in a bid to win the game but Halanukonuka proved to be the matchwinner with his pick-up-and-go shortly before the end.

The win – their third in four matches – moves Tasman into second spot on the table – three points adrift of tabletoppers Canterbury who have 19 points from four games.

The scorers:

For Tasman:
Tries: Malneek, Halanukonuka
Cons: Banks 2
Pens: Banks 3

For Waikato:
Try: O'Donnell
Con: McKenzie
Pens: McKenzie 3

Tasman: 15 Robbie Malneek, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Alex Ainley, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Ciua Halanukonuka, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Jesse MacDonald, 17 Reuben Northover, 18 Joe Wheeler, 19 Tevita Koloamatangi, 20 Billy Guyton, 21 Rohan Saifoloi, 22 David Havili.

Waikato: 15 Albert Nikoro, 14 Declan O'Donnell, 13 Jordan Payne, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Joe Webber, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber (capt), 8 Adam Burn, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Jacob Skeen, 4 Luke Katene, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Loni Uhila.
Replacements: 16 Harry Jones, 17 James McGougan, 18 Nick Ross, 19 Zane Kapeli, 20 Harrison Levien, 21 Wharenui Hawera, 22 Regan Ware.

Referee: Kane McBride

By David Skippers