Tasman vs Hawkes Bay
On more than one occasion a team promoted has struggled when playing in the top flight, and while the Makos are still to face a Premiership heavyweight, they signalled their presence in this year’s competition with a 35-15 victory over Hawke’s Bay.
To put the thumping win into perspective, the last time the two teams met Ihaia West could have won the game for the Magpies with a last minute conversion, but Tasman hung on for a one point win in the 2013 ITM Cup Championship Final.
That victory propelled the fledging province into the Premiership, and they have made an immediate statement with one of the most impressive victories of the first week.
In absolutely picture perfect conditions in Blenheim, Tasman got off to the perfect start when lock Joe Wheeler crashed over in the opening minute.
First five-eighth Marty Banks, who would kick three penalties in the opening 28 minutes, would keep the scoreboard ticking over for the home team even though they were not able to complete some of their moves to score their second try.
Both sides were playing positive rugby but Tsaman’s prowess at the breakdown was giving them the edge in the tight exchanges.
Hawke’s Bay pivot Ihaia West would knock over a penalty, but for all of the Makos possession it was like throwing a pebble hoping it would stop the flow of the river.
That changed with two minutes to play in the opening half when former All Blacks Sevens representative Bryce Heem scored to give the hosts 23-3 lead at halftime.
Tom Marshall and David Havili would score two tries within six minutes to stretch Tasman’s score to 35 points.
However the Magpies began to run with more wild abandon, and as a consequence Robbie Fruean, playing his first match for Hawke’s Bay, was brought into the game as the contest progressed – scoring a great try in the 51st minute.
Flank Brendon O’Connor scored the Bay’s second five-pointer as the game entered the final quarter, but at this stage Tasman were in control of the clash.
The contest however lost some shape as no less than 12 changes were made by the two teams between the 50th and 60th minutes, and the scoreline held as the game and the sun dropped.
Hawke’s Bay return home next week to host Taranaki, while Tasman hit the road to play Bay of Plenty.
Tries: Wheeler, Heem, Marshall, Havili
Cons: Banks (3)
Pens: Banks (3)
Hawke’s Bay 15
Tries: Fruean, O’Connor