Record Tasman win secures semis berth

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Sunday, October 16, 2016    Getty Images

Southland held the widest winning margin from their 41-0 win in 2009 but that was left well behind by a rampant Tasman side.

Scoring eight tries without answer, Tasman unleashed their off-loading game with deadly effect while also making good use of wings coming into play from the short-side to several times prise open the Southland defences.

It was only Southland's ability to hold players up over the line, three times they did, that prevented Tasman's score reaching higher. While Tasman, even without the injured Marty Banks running the ship at first five-eighths, enhanced the reputation they have established in the competition in recent seasons.

Mitchell Hunt moved to first five-eighths in Banks' absence and settled to the task superbly while landing five conversions from five attempts.

Southland had few scoring chances, but when they did get them they lacked the finish of the home side. Too often they were hesitant, or inaccurate, on the off-load in comparison to their rivals while their handling was too often poor. Southland missed 28 tackles to four, although centre Dylan Collier's efforts prevented the count being worse.

Tasman hit them hard from the outset, utilising their off-loading skills to special effect and but for some diehard tackling efforts, three times holding players up over the goal-line, Southland would have been in a lot more strife than they already were at 0-21 down at half-time.

Position was rewarded in the seventh minute when a pushover scrum saw Tasman No.8 Pete Samu grounded the ball, to make up for his disappointment moments earlier when he was held up over the line by the much smaller Southland wing Mike Molloy.

Storming back into Southland's 22m area, hooker Andrew Makalio was well-placed at a tackle breakdown to pick up the ball, get through a gap, slip and then crawl the last metre or two to get the ball over the goal-line.

It seemed Samu had scored again in the 16th minute but a TMO check revealed obstruction earlier in the move.

However, the danger of left wing James Lowe was seen in the 25th minute when he joined the backline from a blindside move to create a breakthrough. While he slipped the ball on he was able to get back up, chase hard and be perfectly placed to accept an in-pass to score Tasman's third.

Southland had a more successful period in the last 10 minutes of the half but were unable to get points reward.

Typifying Tasman's dominance with ball in hand was a 46th minute play from a lineout which saw centre Kieron Fonotia at first receiver and running onto the ball before offering a soft back pass to wing Viliami Lolohea charging into the line. He forced his way through four or five Southland tackles to score beside the goalposts for the side's bonus point try.

More forward power saw replacement hooker Jesse Macdonald score in a driving maul in the 55th minute and four minutes later replacement back Alex Nankivell celebrated his arrival on the field with a try resulting from a superb one-handed off-load from Lowe coming in off his wing again, and then in the 65th minute Fonotia was at first receiver again to drive hard at the line. When he was bound up by several tacklers he periscoped the ball out of the meelee to give lock Alex Ainley an assist to the line and over.

The coup de grace came from fullback Caleb Makene who fielded an attempted kick from the in-goal area by Tauasosi Tuimavave before running through the advancing defence to score.

Scorers: Tasman 56 (Pete Samu, Andrew Makalio, James Lowe, Viliame Holohea, Jesse Macdonald, Alex Nankivell, Alex Ainley, Caleb Makene tries; Mitchell Hunt 5 con; Tim O'Malley 3 con) Southland 0. HT: 21-0.