They did everything they could to lose it, but Taranaki broke their NPC duck with a 15-14 win against Southland last night.
A "bloopers" moment straight after Isaia Tuifua had scored to give Taranaki a 15-6 lead let the home side back into the game.
It was a moment halfback Chris Smylie and replacement wing Seta Tamanivalu will not want to see again after they conspried to lose the ball from the kick-off and gift Tim Cornforth a try.
It was a common theme to Taranaki's second half performance. Poor discipline, numerous mistakes and a lack of patience were all things Taranaki would plead guilty to.
They might have lost their first two games but it's hard to explain why Taranaki looked so nervous at times.
They certainly put themselves under pressure and a vast amount of improvement is still needed because most of the premiership sides would hve buried them tonight.
Thankfully for the visitors, Southland could not capitalise. The first half threatened to be another 40 minutes of frustration for Taranaki after they dominated possession and territory for the final half hour but struggled to score points.Too often attacks were blunted by individual mistakes. Prop Shane Cleaver was denied a rare try when Blade Thomson was ruled to have obstructed Robbie Robinson, while Andre Taylor missed his first two penalty attempts.
He did finally land one after 27 minutes, although Taranaki's advantage was short lived as they made another mistake, were penalised and Scott Eade equalised. Wing Jackson Ormond finally broke the try scoring drought when he crossed after a tighthead was secured but Taranaki would have been disapointed to only have an 8-3 lead at the interval.
Although they enjoyed a lion's share of possession, Taranaki lacked some attacking class and were guilty of not drawing in defenders before they passed. It was obvious they were low on confidence, although no one would blame them for taking a safety first approach tactically.
If there were some positives it was the performances of hooker Rhys Marshall and second five-eighth Tuifua.
TARANAKI 15 (Jackson Ormond, Isaia Tuifua tries; Andre Taylor pen, con) SOUTHLAND 14 (Tim Cornforth try; Scott Eade 2 pens, Marty McKenzie pen). HT: 8-3.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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