Tasman too good for Magpies
NPC REPORT: The Tasman Mako will have their home Premiership semifinal after a professional 29-0 shutout of the Hawke’s Bay Magpies at Nelson’s Trafalgar Park.
It was the Mako’s sixth straight victory and takes them into first position on the Premiership log with 43 points. Auckland will need to take at least one point from the Battle of the Bridge clash on Sunday to confirm a home semi and two points to confirm top billing through the play-offs.
The Magpies will now pray that Otago does not beat Waikato and take the Shield on Saturday, as its home Championship semifinal position is at stake.
The rain fell heavily on Trafalgar Park in the first spell, making handling and passing doubly difficult. The ball was like a veritable cake of soap.
Magpies loose forward Devan Flanders looked likely with two breaks on the night, but he was on his lonesome against an accurate Mako pack, which exerted its muscle at best-piece and collision time. Andrew Makalio’s hit on Josh Kaifa summed up the commitment of the Mako defence.
A counter-attack by wing Tomas Aoake led to Mako lock Paripari Parkinson diving over near the posts. It was the only try of a tense, error-filled opening stanza.
The rain abated in the second spell but the home side did not ease up. Tom O’Malley ran a nice angle off a flat Mitch Hunt pass to extend the lead to 15-0.
Hunt crawled over the line at the 68-minute mark as the Mako’s control through the pack was exemplary against the youthful visitors. Fullback Will Jordan hardly saw action but it did not matter and it was not the night for attacking from the back.
Replacement halfback Jack Grooby crossed between the uprights for the bonus point after 24 phases of superb control.
Both the Mako and the Magpies will now have a decent break in preparing for the semifinals.
Tries: Paripari Parkinson, Tim O’Malley, Mitch Hunt, Jack Grooby
Cons: Mitch Hunt 3,
Pen: Mitch Hunt
For Hawke’s Bay: None