Big pre-season win for Tasman over Counties
Tasman Makos head coach Leon MacDonald hasn’t watched much local club rugby this season but was impressed with Wednesday’s by-product as his Tasman Emerging Players overwhelmed the Counties Cavaliers 49-26 in Mangere.
The Crusaders assistant coach, MacDonald took advantage of the Super Rugby break to join his players for their first pre-season hit-out of the season. And after watching them run in seven converted tries, he couldn’t help but be impressed.
‘‘There were some absolutely stand-out performances from some guys and the physicality of the game was impressive,’’ MacDonald said.
‘‘Both teams brought a lot of intensity in the tackle and the breakdown and it was a big step up from club rugby.’’
Tasman led 28-14 at the break following tries to wings Johnny Ika and Fletcher Matthews, centre Rupena Parkinson and flanker Tone Ng Shiu.
They added a further three in the second half, two of them to substitute hooker Pelefoti Siaki, with reserve winger Tomas Aoake completing the haul.
The game produced plenty of ball movement from both sides and effective scrambling defence by the Tasman players in what MacDonald described as ‘‘a good day out’’.
‘‘[Lock] Shannon Frizell was outstanding, we know he’s a qual- ity player and he was massive today.
‘‘[Captain and flanker] Ethan Blackadder has shown that he’s taken his game to another level.’’
The halves pairing of Ben Finau and Tim O’Malley showed excellent control and distribution, with O’Malley also kicking six conversions before fullback Andrew Knewstubb added the seventh.
The pacey Ika showed some clever touches in broken play, as did No 8 Vern Fredericks who created the break for Aoake’s second half try.
Hooker Sam Moli showed plenty of maturity in his first year out of college.
‘‘Our set piece was pretty solid for not a massively big pack and Drew Petelo did a good job at tighthead [prop] early on and gave us a good scrum. So there were some good performances all round really.’’
Tasman’s next pre-season clash with Manawatu in Palmerston North on August 2.
Shannon Frizell, in action here against Taranaki last season, made an outstanding contribution to Tasman’s win.