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Strong finish gives Harbour win

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Saturday, September 18, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

North Harbour showed persistent control with its big forwards holding out a determined home team which didn't quite have the firepower to match the visitors who used field position to their advantage in the second half.

Heavy rain greeted the teams at Trafalgar Park but the way the game started it didn't seem to be affecting attitudes.

North Harbour first five-eighths Mike Harris, who contributed 13 points from his boot, landed a penalty goal in the second minute, but Tasman responded immediately, making the most of an accidental off-side by North Harbour at the re-start. The ball was moved to the flank and from the breakdowns, Tasman drove hard at the line and eventually, in the fifth minute it was lock Chris Jack who ploughed over with halfback Stephen Alfeld adding the conversion.

Harris and Alfeld exchanged penalty goals before the first quarter was complete. Tasman looked better suited on attack with the Marshall brothers, first five-eighths James and fullback Tom, working well with left wing James Kamana and second five-eighths Jack Umaga.

But North Harbour found some rhythm, especially with longer kicks in behind the Tasman defences and it was after one such kick by second five-eighths Luke McAlister which resulted in a five-metre scrum.

Harris set up a ruck in front of the posts in the first phase and the ball was moved left and it was No.8 Matt Luamanu who drove his way over the line for the try which with Harris' conversion saw North Harbour reclaim the lead at 13-10.

Harris showed his intention at the start of the second half with two sharp breaks, the first falling down only when wing Nafi Tuitavake couldn't reel in a tough pass while the second fell down on a lack of support.

But it was Tasman who scored first after a solid build-up and a superb midfield break by Kade Poki. He fed inside to James Marshall and he sped away to score for Tasman to regain the lead.

Kamana and Poki continued to play their tricks during the middle stages of the second half and while Harris and Alfeld exchanged penalty goals for Tasman to get out to an 18-16 lead.

However, North Harbour finished better and when replacement hooker Manu Leiataua added some fizz to the pack, the chance came in the 71st minute as McAlister moved across the line to feed centre Jack Tarrant. He headed towards the sideline and reverse passed to Tuitavake. He cut infield and looked to have been stopped when he drove again and propelled himself over for the try.

Harris added a fine conversion from wide out and then from the re-start Tarrant was able to kick a speculator along the sideline from halfway. He out-paced the defenders, toed the ball ahead again and then picked up short of the line to put the ball over for the game-breaking try.

Scorers:

Tasman 21 (Chris Jack, James Marshall tries; Stephen Alfeld con, 2 pen) North Harbour 28 (Matt Luamana, Nafi Tuitavake, Jack Tarrant tries; Michael Harris 2 con, 3 pen). HT: 10-13