20 v 27
Tasman were given a reminder of the task ahead of them when attempting to win promotion to the ITM Cup Premiership when Taranaki came back at them before they claimed a 27-20 win at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth on Sunday.
Tasman led 21-6 at half-time but they were push onto the back foot for much of the second half as their defensive systems were put to the test.
However, gallant as Taranaki proved in their fightback, they paid the price for failure to secure ball consistently enough to negate the advantage a tighter Tasman side built up in the first half.
Backed by the goal-kicking boot of inside back Billy Guyton, who landed 17 points with his boot, Tasman profited significantly from Taranaki’s transgressions.
Tasman took a significant step to victory 24 minutes into the game.
A break by second five-eighths Andrew Symons materialised out of a bouncing pass that he tidied and when he linked with No.8 Vernon Fredericks the chance was sniffed by lock Joe Wheeler who was beautifully positioned for the off-load and he capped the move with a classy run to score.
Halfback Billy Guyton added the conversion to go with the two penalty goals he landed within the first seven minutes.
Taranaki made a frustrating start, making telling breaks, especially through No.8 Blade Thomson, but having the moves fall down due to basic errors which allowed Tasman, playing much more cohesively, to clear their line. Taranaki enjoyed considerable half-time advantage in territory but conceded too many penalties and missed key tackles.
Andre Taylor, playing on the wing, did keep them in the hunt with penalty goals in the 20th and 28th minutes.
Guyton added a third penalty in the 33rd minute and after the re-start Taranaki halfback Chris Smylie was caught at the maul and the ball was toed ahead, tapped again and wing Mitchell Scott claimed the second try.
Taranaki strove hard to get back into the game in the third quarter. They did concede another penalty goal to Guyton, but in the 53rd minute centre Seta Tamanivalu opened up the defence on the blindside and went over wide out.
Fullback Kurt Baker went close to backing that effort up after he was fed a short pass by replacement halfback Jamison Gibson-Park. The only defender was Scott and he bundled him over in the tackle and as Baker went to ground the ball it hit his bicep and he wasn’t able to ground it leaving the score at 24-13 to the visitors.
Tamanivalu stirred up the attacking instincts of the home side and the ball was moved consistently by both sides in the final quarter.
Eventually, Taranaki had reward when another short pass from Gibson-Park to Taylor allowed him to race 20m, even if there appeared to be a forward pass involved, to score and add the conversion to get within four points.
Taranaki 20 (Seta Tamanivalu, Andre Taylor tries; Taylor 2 con, 2 pen)
Tasman 27 (Joe Wheeler, Mitchell Scott tries; Billy Guyton con, 5 pen).