Tasman have maintained their flawless start to the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership with a hard-fought 35-26 win over Waikato in Hamilton on Saturday.
Despite spending the majority of the contest on the wrong side of the scoreboard, Tasman managed to stay in touch with their opponents throughout, before a final-quarter surge pushed them past the finish line in a highly entertaining encounter.
The victory sees the unbeaten Mako cement their spot in the Premiership semi-finals.
The hosts opened the try-scoring in the 9th minute, when Bailyn Sullivan latched on to a superb long ball from fullback Solomon Alaimalo to waltz over in the corner untouched.
Sullivan had his brace just a few minutes later off the back of a beautifully executed set-piece move from a scrum to push the lead out to 12-3.
The Mako finally cracked the line themselves with a huge pushover try from a five-metre scrum, with Hugh Roach on the end of it.
In the 30th minute, Waikato responded through a brilliant individual effort from wing Declan O’Donnell.
After a period of sustained tryline pressure, David Havili crossed for Tasman to close Waikato’s lead to 23-15 at halftime.
The second stanza opened as a back and forth tussle, with the scoring shackles broken by a great long-range effort from the Mako in the 55th minute. Ethan Blackadder was the benefactor of a barnstorming Leicester Fainga’anuku run to reduce their deficit to a single point.
An Havili penalty edged Tasman ahead 25-23 heading into the final quarter of the contest, before Fletcher Smith snatched it back off the tee with 10 minutes to play.
Tasman then struck the killer blow with minutes remaining, as halfback Uchida Keisuke and Will Jordan combined close to the ruck to send Wyatt Crockett in under the crossbar to seal the win.
The Mako move on to face Auckland at home on Friday, while Waikato will challenge Otago for the Ranfurly Shield in Dunedin on Sunday.
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- Mitre 10 Cup: Tasman crush Otago to go top of premiership ladder
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