Makos get off to winning start
The Tasman Makos have opened their ITM Cup rugby season on a winning note after an encouraging 25-15 victory over Southland in Invercargill on Saturday.
Winger James Lowe played a significant role in a deserved win after scoring the game's only two tries as the Makos secured just their second win in six meetings between the two provinces.
Tasman opened the scoring with a fifth-minute penalty to second five-eighth Andy Symons, countered just four minutes later when Southland No 10 Scott Eade equalised from a handy position. Symons restored the lead at 6-3 soon after.
But Tasman's positive attacking attitude finally paid off when a decisive break by Symons eventually freed up left winger James Lowe for the game's opening try and an 11-3 lead after 19 minutes.
A second Eade penalty reduced the margin to 11-6 before Lowe was in the action again, breaking two tackles in a strong sideline break, but his linking pass to centre Kieron Fonotia just short of the line was spilled in a desperate Southland tackle.
Halfback Mark Swanepoel crossed for what appeared to be Tasman's second try in the 26th-minute only for referee Richard Kelly to rule a knock-on by No 8 George Stowers at the preceeding attacking scrum. However, mounting pressure on Southland's line saw substitute first five-eighth Billy Guyton add Tasman's third penalty for a deserved 14-6 halftime lead.
Southland struck first after the break with two Eade penalties reducing Tasman's lead to 14-12 inside 10 minutes.
The momentum swing sparked a positive response from Southland's forwards who began to deny Tasman possession, winger Keanu Kahukura also being dragged down just short after a sharp break.
Another two Guyton penalties helped ease some of the pressure at 20-12 although the penalty barrage continued as Eade again narrowed the gap to just five points.
Lowe blew the game open again after excellent lead up work by Fonotia and flanker Liam Squire saw the big winger drag Eade several metres to the tryline with 12 minutes remaining.
Tasman were attacking at the finish, adding the home team's misery by denying them a bonus point.
Tasman 25 (James Lowe 2 tries, Andy Symons 2 pens, Billy Guyton 3 pens)
Southland 15 (Scott Eade 5 pens) Ht 14-6.
- (Live Matches)