Tasman too strong for livelier Southland

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Sunday, August 26, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

While never under threat of missing out on a win, Tasman did face a fiery Southland response to their first round loss and there were signs that with greater ball retention and handling Southland can yet be competitive in the Championship section 
Tasman made the first gain when applying the lineout drive which had so unravelled Southland a week earlier against Hawke's Bay. Hooker Andrew Makalio was the recipient in the eighth minute.

But Southland demonstrated far greater defensive cohesion and attacking development to reply with a 12th minute try to No.8 Tony Lamborn, who was perfectly positioned in support to take a pass from flanker Phil Halder who made the initial break, to score.

In spite of losing tighthead prop Morgan Mitchell to an AC joint injury, Southland maintained defensive pressure, several times halting Tasman attacks and clearing from their own 22m area with replacement prop Christopher Apoua having an impact.

Then, in the 27th minute lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit made a break and back-handed a ball that allowed Aleki Morris-Lome to carry the ball to the goalmouth.

From the ruck first five-eighths James Wilson threaded the ball between two defenders to pass out to hooker Flynn Thomas who scored.

However, the ground gained was conceded three minutes later when home halfback Jack Grooby completed a double round play to feed fullback Will Jordan down the unprotected blindside and when wing Solomon Alaimalo got the ball there was no likelihood of him being stopped.

Just before halftime, Tasman reclaimed the lead from a five-metre scrum play which saw lock Quinten Strange score.

In spite of playing into a strong wind, Tasman made the better start to the second half pouring on a big scrum in the 46th minute and when the ball was freed up from a ruck Grooby was able to pass out for Jordan to hit a big gap in the defence to score.

With former All Black Wyatt Crockett coming on as a substitute, the Tasman scrum took control and in the 50th minute Ethan Blackadder drove over.

Southland continued to scrap and had their chances during the middle stages of the second half but knock-ons and turnovers proved costly. When Tasman centre Levi Aumua made a powerful break to set up a ruck in the Southland 22m area, the ball was moved right with Strange making it close to the line before replacement back Sione Havili got over in the 65th minute.

Some consolation for Southland came during a nine-phase play which resulted in Wilson taking a gap to feed Selby-Rickit across in the 72nd minute, followed four minutes later by another for replacement wing Rory van Vugt after a strong break by Jack Capil.

They were building towards another try but an errant pass by replacement prop Joseph Walsh undid all the work as the turnover ball allowed Jordan to chip the ball ahead, regather it and then run 60m for the final try of the game.

Scorers: Tasman 45 (Andrew Makalio, Solomon Alaimalo, Quinten Strange, Will Jordan 2, Ethan Blackadder, Sione Havili tries; Tim O'Malley 4 con; Mitchell Hunt con) Southland 24 (Tony Lamborn, Flynn Thomas, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Rory van Vugt tries; James Wilson 2 con). HT: 19-12