Tasman stunned by upset defeat
North Harbour have finally salvaged something from a miserable season with a stunning upset 42-10 ITM Cup rugby win over the Tasman Makos in Nelson tonight.
It was bottom-placed Harbour's only win of a disappointing championship campaign but more significantly, it has also denied
Tasman a home semifinal. Tasman now head to Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium next weekend where they'll play a rejuvenated Otago side.
Harbour certainly took a nothing to lose approach into the match, opening the scoring through an early penalty to fullback Codey Rei.
Tom Marshall levelled up for Tasman moments later.
A second Rei penalty extended Harbour's lead to 6-3 midway through the half before a line break by midfielder Francis Saili freed up pacey winger Nafi Tuitavake on the outside for the opening try. Rei's excellent sideline conversion pushed Harbour out to 13-3, the visitors earning some reward for having absorbed plenty of early defensive pressure.
A transformed Harbour team made Tasman pay for more slack defence when centre Cory Aporo broke cleanly through Tasman's line, lock Filo Paulo crashing over between the posts from the resulting ruck on the line.
At 20-3 ahead, Harbour were looking well in control, with not even decisive line breaks by Tasman centre Kieron Fonotia and substitute winger Peter Betham late in the half enough to outmanoeuvre Harbour's
switched on defence.
Harbour looked anything but the competition strugglers, particularly on defence, as they matched everything Tasman threw at them to take a commanding 20-3 lead into the break.
Rei compounded Tasman's problems with a third penalty success directly after the restart as Harbour extended their margin to 20 points.
Tasman finally breached Harbour's defence when a quick throw in by Betham eventually saw No 10 Hayden Cripps across after several phases, Marshall's conversion reducing the margin to 23-10.
But Harbour were quickly back in command when an uncontrolled Tasman lineout tap saw substitute halfback Bryn Hall scamper 40m for the try and a staggering 28-10 lead.
The win was sealed with 14 minutes to go when winger David Raikuna burst onto the ball inside Tasman's quarter to secure their try-scoring bonus and an emphatic 35-10 lead. Big No 8 Vili Fihaki then rubbed further salt in Tasman's wounds with a fifth Harbour try to complete a sensational win.
North Harbour 42 (Nafi Tuitavake, Filo Paulo, Bryn Hall, David Raikuna, Vili Fihaki tries, Codey Rei 3 pens, 4 cons)
Tasman 10 (Hayden Cripps try, Tom Marshall pen, con) Ht 20-3.
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