57 v 14
With the backline sparkling under the baton of the conductor at first five-eighths Marty Banks, Manawatu had no answer.
Banks scored two tries, the first when Manawatu replacement Hamish Northcott lost the ball in a tackle which he picked up and raced in and then he was able to polish off another breakdown by a superb dive over in the corner. In the process, his 27 points, from two tries, six conversions and a penalty goal, allowed him to claim the individual points scoring record in a season for Tasman, surpassing the 116 set by Andrew Goodman. With a prospective two more games to go he is sitting on 130 points.
Prop Tim Perry exemplified the spirit and enterprise that has marked the Tasman side’s campaign and which will see it meet Southland in a semi-final at the weekend.
He scored two tries, one that had him running like a centre to score his first and reverting more to the typecast prop with his second as Tasman cut loose to score seven tries to two.
Keiron Fonotia cut a swathe from centre while experienced Tom Marshall and fullback Robbie Malneek cut some merry capers in partnership with wings Bryce Heem and Mitchell Scott.
Manawatu started efficiently but under pressure they coughed up too many mistakes and it was obvious early in the second half which way the result was going.
After paying the price for indecision from the kick-off to start the game, Manawatu came back from the concession of an early penalty goal which Tasman first five-eighths Marty Banks converted.
First five-eighths Jade Te Rure lifted a mid-field bomb which was fielded but when second five-eighths Tom Marshall brought the ball forward he lost control and Manawatu turned the ball around. The ball was run superbly by left wing Newton Tudreu down the flank and he did well to keep the ball in and it was Te Rure who finished off what he had started by scoring.
Five minutes later, in the 13th minute, two strong runs by wing Mitchell Scott set up a chance which halfback Billy Guyton was quick to take and he exposed the Manawatu defences to regain the lead for his side.
Te Rure was on hand quickly to take advantage of a Tasman backline mistake in the 27th minute. Communication broke down as they attempted a move but the ball dropped loose, Te Rure passed out but it went to land and centre Jason Emery toed the ball ahead. Wing Leroy van Dam tidied the ball and it was flanker Heiden Bedwell-Curtis fed the ball for fullback Lewis Marshall to score.
It was Manawatu’s turn to concede a mistake when they attempted a quick lineout on halfway but the throw-in went to land and bounced at a wicked angle and into the hands of chasing flanker Shane Christie and he found wing Scott in support and he cleared out to regain the lead.
Tasman were back on the attack early in the second half when Manawatu coughed up ball and it was moved quickly by Tasman from one side to the other where hooker Francis Smith scored.
Prop Tim Perry celebrated a rare moment in open space when fed a short pass from Banks in broken play. Perry took the gap, changed angle and then sprinted in for Tasman’s bonus point try.
Tasman 57 (Billy Guyton, Mitchell Scott, Francis Smith, Tim Perry 2, Marty Banks 2, Andy Symons tries; Banks 7 con, pen)
Manawatu 14 (Jade Te Rure; Lewis Marshall tries; Te Rure 2 con).