Late penalty a kick in the guts for Makos
A penalty by Northland sharpshooter Ash Moeke in the final minute secured Northland a tense 2012 ITM Cup rugby win over a weary Tasman Makos side at Blenheim's Lansdowne Park today.
It was Tasman's third game in eight days, but despite a brave effort, were just pipped at the death.
Northland sharpshooter Ash Moeke opened the scoring in the fourth minute with a handy penalty success to give the visitors an early 3-0 lead.
Tasman replied in kind through their No 10 Hayden Cripps nine minutes later after a series of promising attacks gave them field position and a chance to level at 3-all.
Moeke's 55m angled penalty attempt midway through the half was astray as Tasman continued to tarnish their commendable attacking approach by infringing in promising situations.
Tasman winger Peter Betham produced a gilt-edged scoring opportunity when he split Northland's line in the 28th minute, breaking well into Northland territory before throwing a loose pass.
But it was Northland who opened the tryscoring when second five-eighth Derek Carpenter eventually crashed across eight minutes before the break after a turnover saw the ball worked through several phases. Moeke's conversion gave Northland the lead at 10-3.
Carpenter caused further problems with a clean break minutes later, his linking pass to left winger Mateo Malupo going astray. Another Carpenter bust just before halftime put centre Rene Ranger into space, the final linking pass to winger Matt Wright again grassed as Northland took their 10-3 lead into the break.
Tasman attacked strongly after the restart as a Cripps penalty narrowed the margin to 10-6, the Tasman No 10 striking again soon after when Northland flanker Jack Ram was shown a yellow card for infringing near his own line to reduce the deficit to just one point.
Tasman were finally rewarded for their consistent attacking efforts when lock Filipo Levi surged across from a pick and go to give the home team their first lead at 14-10. And when second five-eighth Andrew Goodman landed a huge 54m penalty midway through the half, the momentum appeared to be shifting Tasman's way at 17-10.
But with Tasman mounting another promising attack, a turnover saw Northland winger Mateo Malupo break clear for a superb solo try, Moeke's handy conversion levelling the scores at 17-all.
Moeke had the chance to reclaim the lead seven minutes from time but was astray, giving Moeke his chance for a late Northland win.
Northland 20 (Derek Carpenter, Mateo Malupo tries, Ash Moeke pen, 2 cons)
Tasman 17 (Filipo Levi try, Hayden Cripps 3 pens, Andrew Goodman pen) Ht 10-3.