Stalemate for Tasman at Fortress Albany

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016    Getty Images

It was a fitting result as both teams went tit-for-tat throughout the contest to leave North Harbour unbeaten at their Albany base in 2016. Although both sides deserved their two competition points, there was no lack of trying for victory with a frantic five minutes of extra time played before the long range Marty Banks penalty faded away.

North Harbour hold the edge over Tasman with five wins from the seven matches played between the sides, but that counted for little as James Lowe made an impact on return from injury to set up second five-eighth David Havili for an early try.

As was to become the theme for this match, when one team scored, the other would strike back immediately. North Harbour wing Tevita Li showed he could match anything his opposite James Lowe could do by launching a searing counter attack to set up fullback Matt McGahan for North Harbour’s first try.

There was no lack of endeavour from either side in the rest of the first half, but the defensive structures were too strong as Marty Banks and Bryn Gatland traded penalties to leave the score locked at 13-13 at the break.

The hard fought forward battle continued in the second half with North Harbour taking a slight edge at scrum time but Tasman making inroads through the hard running Pete Samu and workhorse Alex Ainley.

The second half deadlock was broken when the Makos replacement midfielder Kieron Fonotia was yellow carded for a punch. North Harbour immediately exploited the one man advantage by moving the ball both sides of the field before centre Matt Vaega found a gap to snatch the lead. Tasman had a chance for three points in front of the posts but sent the ball to the corner and reaped the reward when hooker Andrew Makalio went over from a strong line out drive.

Tasman’s discipline let them down again when loose forward Ethan Blackadder was yellow carded for cynical play close to the line. Just like they did when Fonotia was yellow carded, North Harbour scored immediately as front rower Adrian Smith crashed over from a text book drive to make it 27-20 with 10 minutes to play.

This was a game of tit for tat though, and Tasman scored their second try with just 14 men on the field when Shannon Frizell barged over from a period of sustained attack on the North Harbour line.

With the score locked at 27-27 with five minutes to play, both teams tried to break the deadlock but in the end the draw was a fair reflection of the contest.

The result leaves North Harbour in fourth place in the Championship with one game remaining while Tasman have moved above Auckland and Counties Manukau into third place in the Premiership with one match also left to play.

North Harbour 27 (Matt McGahan, Matt Vaega, Adrian Smith tries, Bryn Gatland 2 pen, 3 con) Tasman 27 (David Haivili, Andrew Makalio, Shanon Frizell tries, Marty Banks 3 con, 2 pen)
HT: 13-13

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