Mako withstand stunning Steelers finish
Sunday, September 23, 2018 Campbell Burnes Getty Images
QUICK TAP: AUCKLAND HOLD OFF SPIRITED TARANAKI
Led by men such as Wyatt Crockett – who took the three points for the Duane Monkley Medal – Ethan Blackadder, Quinten Strange, Levi Aumua, Finlay Christie and the metre eater Will Jordan at fullback, the Mako looked hard to peg in the early exchanges, but lacked the finishing touches.
No 8 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta burst off a scrum to score and open the Mako account, while Crockett finished off one of several breaks by Jordan.
The Steelers were barely hanging on, flat on attack, porous on defence and unable to involve Etene Nanai-Seturo, in his first start at fullback. The Mako scrum was dominant, and it looked for all the world as if the floodgates were creaking open.
When Jordan ran a nice angle off a short ball by Mitch Hunt, the Mako faithful must have been thinking of the bonus point. But the next try never came.
FT | The @TasmanMako have held on to sneak home by 2? points against @CountiesRugby in a thrilling finish in Nelson. #TASvCOU #WahineRound pic.twitter.com/Fc9MnOK1Jm— Mitre 10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) September 23, 2018Instead, the Steelers found a second wind, received good purchase off their bench and started to win and hold much of the ball. Sione Molia scored with his first touch off a turnover, and then the admirable Joe Royal dived over from a lineout drove, which seems to be the prime scoring option now for hookers.
When wing Tevita Nabura finished a try in fine style off a Liam Daniela break with just three minutes to play, Steelers supporters were dreaming of a miracle denouement. But Lu Laulala, who was top value, pushed the wide-angled conversion wide.
The visitors had shown their wares in the last quarter, but will again rue such a slow start. They remain in sixth position on the Premiership ladder.
Tasman travels to Wellington next Saturday night, while the Steelers host Northland next Sunday in Pukekohe.
*In the Farah Palmer Cup Championship curtainraiser, the Wellington Pride crushed the Tasman Mako 88-3.
Duane Monkley Medal points
3: Wyatt Crockett (Tasman)
2: Will Jordan (Tasman)
1: Joe Royal (Counties Manukau)
Tasman 21 (Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Wyatt Crockett, Will Jordan tries; Mitch Hunt 3 con) Counties Manukau 19 (Sione Molia, Joe Royal, Tevita Nabura tries; Luteru Laulala 2 con) HT: 14-0 Tasman
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