Tasman claim semi-final berth but Auckland in trouble

Getty Images

Sunday, October 8, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The loss was of more consequence to Auckland who are still in the relegation zone with their last game of the season against Canterbury at Eden Park on Friday. Their rivals for relegation Waikato are away on Saturday to Bay of Plenty.
Tasman made light of the wintry conditions. The game was played in an old-fashioned, water-logged bog at Trafalgar Park in which the home team looked best suited to the conditions.

The home loose forwards of flankers Vernon Fredericks and Ethan Blackadder and No.8 Jordan Taufua reveled in the conditions to build on the graft of their front five while out the back fullback Will Jordan continued his impressive advance with a fine display.

Auckland scored first through two penalty goals to halfback Jono Hickey.

But Fredericks paid off some good work on the burst by lock Shannon Frizell and Blackadder down the right flank before wide passes found Fredericks out on the left flank where he scored the opening try.

Jordan had a significant impact in the conditions, fielding ball kicked downfield by Auckland and taking it back at them. One break in the 25th minute set up a chance for Tasman to benefit from some invaluable inter-passing which belied the conditions. Jordan was downed just short of the goal-line but from the ruck halfback Billy Guyton dived low around the ruck to score.

Poor lineout control when tapping the ball back at a lineout, always a no-no under the conditions, saw Fredericks break after the ball to secure it and feed Blackadder the ball with open real estate to score a fine try.

The closest Auckland got to scoring was in the last minute of the first half when wing Joeseva Ravouvou looked to get over after hooker Kurt Eklund gave him the ball with room. But in a marvelous piece of cover defence Tasman centre Trael Joass got his hand under the ball as the Aucklander lost control and the try was missed.

More good play defied the conditions after first five-eighths Mitchell Hunt gave wing James Lowe room to move on the left and when the defence closed he threw the perfect pass to Jordan who had gone outside him in support and he scored in the 46th minute.

Auckland finally got over the line in the 54th minute from a lineout close to the line. Flanker Taleni Seu got up to secure the ball and second five-eighths TJ Faiane went close to scoring. But from the goal-line ruck it was No.8 Akira Ioane at halfback who threw the pass for Seu to dive over in the corner.

But Tasman hadn't finished and another back movement generated by the speed of Hunt's pass to Jordan on the blindside went on to Lowe, back to Jordan and then outside to Frizell for the 61st minute try.

There was a late consolation after Ravouvou kicked ahead to apply the pressure on the defence and regain the ball to pass to lock Ben Nee-Nee for a try.

Scorers were: Tasman 31 (Vernon Fredericks, Billy Guyton, Ethan Blackadder, Will Jordan, Shannon Frizell tries; Guyton 3 con) Auckland 18 (Taleni Seu, Ben Nee-Nee tries; Jono Hickey 2 pen; Harry Plummer con). HT: 19-6