Tasman too good for Waikato

Date published: August 14 2015

Last year's runners-up Tasman got their ITM Cup campaign underway with a hard-fought 35-20 win over Waikato in Hamilton.

They ran in four tries in total, and despite Damian McKenzie keeping Waikato in the game, Tasman emerged deserved winners, with Jimmy Cowan sealing the bonus point at the death.

It was the home team who had the better of the early exchanges, with McKenzie's goal-kicking helping them stretch into a 3-9 lead, despite Waikato failing to create any real try-scoring opportunities.

2014's runners-up seemed to be slow out of the blocks, but once they did find their rhythm, they quickly took control of the game.

On the half-hour Tasman went over for the first try of the game, and it was a special effort. After a series of charges, scrum-half Billy Guyton flipped the ball out between his legs, freeing up the space for Quentin MacDonald, who then threw the miss-pass to Liam Squire for the simplest of finishes. Banks converted from the touchline to put Tasman in front for the first time.

The momentum had clearly shifted, and the Makos made it count as they ran in a second try five minutes later. After earning a penalty at scrum-time, Tasman kicked to the corner, and having secured the line-out, skipper Shane Christie controlled things from the back of the maul as the simple try followed. Banks added the extras again to make it 17-9 at the break.

McKenzie missed a penalty at the end of the first-half, but cut the lead to five early in the second after he was hit late by Squire. That was quickly cancelled out by Banks when Atu Moli was caught offside, offering a simple three points to the Tasman kicker.

Waikato responded with a period of possession in the Tasman 22, but struggled to get any closer, eventually settling for a fifth McKenzie penalty.

While the home side were staying in touch, it was Tasman who were by far the more dangerous, and they went over for their third try, with Peter Samu, the third member of the back-row, going over after slipping a couple of tackles.

Banks missed the conversion and things got worse for him a few minutes later when he was sin-binned for an intentional knock-on with Waikato looking certain to score.

Surprisingly, Waikato were denied a penalty try, but they went over a minute later, with debutant full-back Shaun Stevenson popping up in midfield to cross. McKenzie pulled the conversion but Waikato were back within five, trailing 25-20.

Having dominated much of the game, it looked like Tasman might be about to let it slip, but instead they tightened things up and saw out the remainder of the sin-bin period.

They then marched down the other end of the pitch, and with five minutes remaining, Jacob Skeen was penalised for hands in the ruck, allowing Banks to make it a two-score game and seal the win.

Tasman weren't done yet though, and when they turned Waikato over in their own 22, the visitors poured onto the attack and Cowan dotted down against the foot of the post for a smart try.

The scorers:

For Waikato:
Pens: McKenzie 5

For Tasman:
Squire, Christie, Samu, Cowan
Cons: Banks 3
Pens: Banks 3
Yellow card: Banks

The teams:

Waikato: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Declan O'Donnell, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jordan Payne, 11 Joe Webber, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Josh Tyrell, 7 Murray Iti, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Jacob Skeen, 4 David Morgan, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Michael Mayhew, 1 Atu Moli.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Lone Uhila, 18 Tau Koloamatangi, 19 James Tucker, 20 Zane Kapeli, 21 Harrison Levien, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Johnathan Malo.

Tasman: 15 Robbie Malneek, 14 Trael Joass, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 David Havili, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Bill Guyton, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Pete Samu, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Jesse MacDonald, 17 Siua Halanukonuka, 18 Jake Stafford-Wood, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Jeff Lepa, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Alex Nankivell.

Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Referee: Nick Briant