Mistakes prove costly as Makos lose to Harbour
North Harbour are quickly becoming Tasman's bogey team after they scored an upset 23-12 win at North Harbour Stadium tonight.
Harbour belied their bottom placing on the ITM Cup rugby championship standings to secure a crucial win over the series pace-setters as an error-ridden Tasman side struggled to get into the game.
Harbour scored the game's only two tries, the second to midfielder Francis Saili sealing the issue late in ther second half after Tasman continued to make basic handling errors.
The first half was dominated by penalty kicks, with Tasman's territorial dominance and North Harbour's persistent indiscipline at the breakdowns giving Tasman fullback Marty Banks every opportunity to test his accuracy.
He landed four penalties, with Harbour No 10 Jon Elrick kicking two, his second virtually on the stroke of halftime, as Tasman took a 12-6 lead into the break.
Handling errors cost Tasman in promising attacking positions as Harbour continued to scramble out of defence and remain well in touch heading into the second half.
Ironically, it was Harbour who scored the game's opening try following a crooked defensive scrum feed inside Tasman's quarter.
No 8 Vili Fihaki took the quick tap before big tighthead prop Ben Afeaki eventually bullocked his way across the line, Elrick's conversion giving the home team their first lead at 13-12.
A noticeable momentum shift and Harbour's growing confidence saw Elrick increase the lead to 16-12.
Tasman thought they had their first try 25 minutes into the half when right winger Robbie Malneek went in at the corner after a lengthy buildup, only for referee Ben O'Keeffe to rule a forward pass from Banks in the final transfer.
The game was made safe for Harbour just five minutes from fulltime when Saili broke clean through Tasman's line from an attacking scrum to claim a gutsy win.
No 8 Fihaki and lock Chris Smith were key players in Harbour's forward effort while Saili eventually showed his class. Shane Christie and Quentin MacDonald were solid performers in an otherwise inaccurate Tasman forward effort as their backs never achieved any attacking momentum.
North Harbour 23 (Ben Afeaki, Francis Saili tries, Jon Elrick 3 pens, 2 cons) Tasman 12 (Marty Banks 4 pens) Ht 6-12.
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