Tasman stand on the threshold of rich reward for a lively campaign when the meet Hawke’s Bay in the ITM Cup Championship final at Nelson’s Trafalgar Park on Friday night.
WALKING WOUNDED: Inspirational Tasman captain Shane Christie returns to the side from a concussion while Tevita Koloamatangi, the blindside flanker, is ruled out after failing a concussion test. That will see Gary Redmond switch to the blindside. Hawke’s Bay have concerns with captain and flanker Mike Coman and second five-eighths Andrew Horrell both suffering from haematomas.FORM: There is no doubt that Tasman have been one of the most consistent sides in the competition, in either division and their best teamwork in the latter half of the season has been complemented by some outstanding individual play by first five-eighths Marty Banks. Hawke’s Bay were performing on a win one-lose one system for the first half of the season but have finished with wins over North Harbour, Southland, Wellington and Otago to qualify. It is that ability to beat Wellington 35-24 that will be playing most on the minds of coaches Kieran Keane and Leon MacDonald. Tasman have shown themselves to be a potent force with their attacking play but they are up against a like opponent who are not short of their own match-winners.
WE THINK: The sheer consistency of the Tasman side during the year, in spite of losses to Canterbury and an out of character defeat by North Harbour, make it the more dangerous of the teams in the final. Hawke’s Bay do have an ability to win away from home, and they have a deadly goal-kicker to take advantage of any home indiscretions in Ihaia West. Keeping the lid on the Hawke’s Bay genie will be the key for Tasman, and given the defensive abilities they have shown this year that may well prove the difference.
We pick Tasman’s Makos by 6.
The teams are:
Tasman: 1.Tim Perry, 2.Quentin MacDonald, 3.Sila Puafisi, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Joe Wheeler, 6.Gary Redmond, 7.Shane Christie (captain), 8.Liam Squire, 9.Billy Guyton, 10.Marty Banks, 11.Mitchell Scott, 12.Tom Marshall, 13.Kieron Fonotia, 14.Bryce Heem, 15.James Lowe.
Reserves: 16.Francis Smith, 17.Siua Halanukonuka, 18.Tevita Cavubati, 19.Vernon Fredericks, 20.Mark Swanepoel, 21.Andy Symons, 22.Robbie Malneek.
Hawke’s Bay:1.Max Lahiff, 2.Ash Dixon, 3.Brendon Edmonds, 4.Michael Allardice, 5.Mark Abbott, 6.Mike Coman (c), 7.Brednon O’Connor, 8.Karl Lowe, 9.Alby Mathewson, 10.Ihaia West, 11.Penikolo Latu, 12.Andrew Horrell, 13.Richard Buckman, 14.Telusa Veainu, 15.Zac Guildford.
Reserves: 16.Ged Robinson, 17.Adrian Barone, 18.Trent Bosswell-Wakefield, 19.Tony Lamborn, 20.Chris Eaton, 21.Adam Bradey, 22.Michael Vuicakau.