An exhilarating ITM Cup Championship Final ended in a narrow 26-25 victory for Tasman over Hawke's Bay at Blenheim on Friday.
An exhilarating ITM Cup Championship Final ended in a narrow 26-25 victory for Tasman over Hawke's Bay at Trafalgar Park on Friday.
A 79th minute try from substitute Hawke's Bay scrum-half Chris Eaton left 20-year-old Ihaia West with a touchline conversion for the trophy, but the fly-half's attempt drifted wide of the mark.
Tasman's victory was built on solid defence, with number eight Liam Squire and second-row Joe Wheeler spearheading an abrasive and powerful forward display, while fly-half Marty Banks landed sixteen points.
Hawke's Bay led early on, however, when All Black full-back Zac Guildford sped over the line with just two minutes on the clock.
From then on, though, Tasman took control of the game, scoring three first-half tries through Bryce Heem, Squire and Banks himself versus a solitary West penalty goal.
Hawke's Bay struck first after the break, with a beautiful Richard Buckman offload sending flanker Brendon O'Connor in for five points. West's conversion cut the gap to six points, and the stage was set for a thrilling final quarter.
Banks and West traded penalty goals, before Eaton was sent sliding in at the corner after bullocking runs from replacement Trent Boswell-Wakefield and O'Connor.
But West, who had enjoyed an impressive game in the pivot position, could not add the extras out wide, and the Cup was destined for Tasman.
Tries: Heem, Squire, Banks
Pens: Banks 2
For Hawke's Bay:
Tries: Guildford, O'Connor, Eaton
Cons: West 2
Pens: West 2
Tasman: 15 James Lowe, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 Mitchell Scott, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie (capt), 6 Gary Redmond, 5 Joseph Wheeler, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry
Replacements: 16 Francis Smith, 17 Siua Halanukonuka, 18 Tevita Cavubati, 19 Vernon Fredericks, 20 Mark Swanepoel, 21 Andy Symons, 22 Robbie Malneck
Hawke's Bay: 15 Zac Guildford, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Richard Buckman, 12 Andrew Bradley, 11 Penikoko Latu, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Karl Lowe, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Coman (capt), 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Michael Allardyce, 3 Brendon Edmonds, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Adrian Barone, 18 Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 19 Tony Lamborn, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Mikey Vuicacau