Tasman has left Waikato Stadium with a bonus point victory after beating Waikato 35 – 20.
The Mooloos kept themselves in the fight for much of the match, but a perfect kicking record by Tasman first five Marty Banks, coupled with some weak defense, saw the Makos run away with the win late in the game.
Shaun Stevenson scored on his Mooloos debut, but a frantic, unstructured backline prevented Waikato to seriously test Tasman’s defensive system.
Damian McKenzie put Waikato in front early with a beautifully struck kick from inside his own half.
The penalty count was high early in the game, and it continued through the match. Both teams constantly made many poor decisions at the breakdown and with running ball.
When Tasman were penalised again, McKenzie slotted his second, and the Mooloos had a 6-0 lead.
Marty Banks got Tasman on the board with three points after slotting a penalty from directly in front.
McKenzie showed his will to challenge the line and nearly sliced through the Tasman defense. With a little help from the ball bouncing off both uprights, McKenzie restored Waikato’s lead to six from a penalty attempt out wide.
Match officials missed Ben Tameifuna clobbering Marty Banks off the ball.
When Tasman opted to go to the line instead of kicking from a penalty, it paid dividends. The Makos had numbers free on the left, and quick hands from Quentin MacDonald aided Liam Squire to power over in the corner for the first try of the match.
Marty Banks converted the try with a brilliant kick, and Tasman pushed in front 10-9.
Makos captain Shane Christie scored shortly after as Waikato fell apart and were pushed over their own goal line from a rolling maul; Tasman were out to a 17-9 lead.
Tasman went into the sheds leading at halftime.
The second half began with a kicking contest with each side fighting for territory. Damian McKenzie inched Waikato closer, slotting his fourth penalty; the Tasman coaches would have been highly annoyed at such a careless penalty out in front on top of the already high penalty count.
On debut for Waikato, Atu Moli was penalised for a high tackle, and Tasman took full advantage as Marty Banks maintained his perfect kicking record, and the Makos led 20-12.
McKenzie slotted another penalty, and Waikato pushed back to within five.
Tramping back on defense, Waikato began slipping off some crucial tackles, and Peter Samu broke through the final wall defending the tryline with ease, scoring near the posts as Tasman put a solid stamp on the game, leading 25-15.
A sensational pass mid tackle by McKenzie set Joe Webber into space, but Waikato managed to blow what was a certain try. Replays showed a hand on the ball by Marty Banks, and the Makos playmaker was sent to the sin bin after the TMO ruled a deliberate knock on. Waikato went to the line but were much too frantic on attack, passing the ball with no accuracy and not being patient enough to assess the whereabouts of the Tasman defense.
On his debut, Shaun Stevenson scored in the corner after Waikato nearly again blew an attacking opportunity.
Waikato got right back in the match with a player advantage for the next period of play.
The backline wasn’t in sync for Waikato, and playmakers were trying to create counter attacks out of nothing, losing ground and getting behind the advantage line. Stevenson made good ground with his punt, but with time ticking away, Waikato weren’t in the right field position to launch an attack.
Once Tasman were restored to their full playing XV, a penalty put the Makos in a position to put the game away with an attacking lineout.
Scrambling on defense, Waikato gave away a penalty, and Marty Banks all but sealed the deal, kicking another three, and Tasman were out to two possession lead.
Trying to get out of their zone, Waikato threw some ambitious passes, and the ball slipped back into the hands of Tasman. The Makos had all the momentum on the try line, and Jimmy Cowan scored on the fulltime hooter, giving Tasman a bonus point.
Tasman leave Hamilton with a strong victory over Waikato 35-22.