Mako take chunks out of Cantabs

Getty Images

Friday, August 17, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Off the back of some bruising gang tackling, an authoritative No 10 display by Mitch Hunt, set-piece dominance and some fluent passing in the backs, Tasman could have won by a wider margin were it not for a late rally by the visitors, who scored two tries via replacement hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate.


But, for the majority of the match, the Tasman pack stood tall, men like hooker Andrew Makalio and lock Quinten Strange in tremendous early season form. They laid the foundation for the debutant halfback Jack Grooby, who cleared the ball swiftly and surely, while dangerman Solomon Alaimalo, debuting on the left wing, was a handful. Centre Levi Aumua, who scored the first try, put a heavy shot on Canterbury wing Braydon Ennor which typified the Mako mindset on defence.

The first half saw Tasman seize the initiative but the Mako could not rack up the points their set-piece dominance and overall possession and territory would suggest.

Aumua speared through some fragile defence to open the tryscoring after a long and concerted Mako build-up. But, other than two Mitch Hunt goals, the Mako could not ram home the advantage.

Canterbury just looked slightly flat, making unforced errors such as not kicking off the requisite 10m and incurring the wrath of referee Richard Kelly with ill-discipline. The visitors, who have not lost a season opener since 2012, could get little going until the final 10 minutes, by which time it was too late.
Strange opened the second stanza scoring, latching onto a long pass by the dynamic Makalio. Alaimalo’s try emanated from a sweet, long cutout pass by Hunt, who had one of his finest outings for the Mako. Flanker Jed Brown burst down the left flank and found Alaimalo on the inside. At 25-3, it was practically game over, despite the late Canterbury flurry.

Lock Luke Romano gave a wholehearted effort for Canterbury, but other than Pleasants-Tate’s impact off the pine, there was little for new coach Joe Maddock to enthuse over.

Canterbury will need to bounce back swiftly next Saturday when it hosts Wellington, while the Mako are back in Blenheim on Sunday week when they welcome Southland in a crossover clash.

Tasman 25
(Levi Aumua, Quinten Strange, Solomon Alaimalo tries; Mitch Hunt 2 con, 2 pen) Canterbury 17 (Greg Pleasants-Tate 2 tries; Brett Cameron 2 con, pen) HT: 10-3 Tasman