Ill-dis­ci­plined Makos have to do it the hard way

Marlborough Express - - SPORT - PETER JONES

The Tas­man Makos’ pride them­selves on be­ing able to over­come ad­ver­sity – in fact it is part of their catch-cry this sea­son.

They have adopted a mantra of, ‘‘no excuses, we just have to step up and per­form, do what­ever it takes to get a re­sult’’.

On Satur­day, they showed it’s not just talk.

Their 29-27 win over Otago was achieved against the odds, over­com­ing some hur­dles cre­ated by out­side in­flu­ences and oth­ers of their own mak­ing.

It was a big enough ask hav­ing to travel to Dunedin and take on a home side who looked mighty im­pres­sive in their open­ing en­coun­ters, with­out fac­tor­ing in the travel sched­ule from hell.

Af­ter the plane tak­ing them to Welling­ton and on to Dunedin broke down in Nel­son on Fri­day af­ter­noon, the side opted to hop into mini-vans and head south, through the Lewis Pass.

They ar­rived in Christchurch just be­fore mid­night then got up at 5.30am to catch a flight to Dunedin on the morn­ing of the mid af­ter­noon match.

It was the first time the team had trav­elled on the day of an away match, a sit­u­a­tion man­ager Mar­tyn Ver­coe de­scribed as ‘‘hugely dis­rup­tive’’

‘‘You don’t want to go through that ev­ery week,’’ he said, ‘‘but ac­tu­ally it gal­vanised us a wee bit, gave the boys a bit of a chip on the shoul­der and mo­ti­vated us.’’

The Makos cer­tainly be­gan strongly, their break­down work a step up from re­cent ef­forts as they turned in a dom­i­nant first half, scor­ing three well-worked tries.

When they for­tu­itously bagged their fourth, a penalty try af­ter yet an­other lu­di­crous rul­ing when an Otago player knocked on while at­tempt­ing an in­ter­cep­tion, the game was firmly in the vis­i­tor’s grasp.

How­ever, as the Makos have done be­fore this sea­son, they in­vited their op­po­nents back into the fight.

Firstly skip­per Alex Ain­ley, nor­mally the most pro­fes­sional of play­ers, had a brain ex­plo­sion.

His clumsy ‘‘ruck­ing’’ in front of ref­eree Mike Fraser was only go­ing to have one re­sult, a yel­low card, then cen­tre Levi Au­mua, who scored a sen­sa­tional first half try, went from hero to zero with a tip tackle that saw him red carded.

Fac­ing just 13 men for a short time, and 14 for the re­main­der of the game, Otago smelled blood.

They scored two con­verted tries as the Makos clung des­per­ately to their ad­van­tage, while watch­ing the clock wind down ag­o­nis­ingly slowly.

De­spite their fall from grace in the sec­ond half, Tas­man can take great heart from this re­sult.

Otago are a for­mi­da­ble unit and not many ri­vals will come away from Forsyth Barr with five points.

The Makos also had per­son­nel is­sues, pre­dom­i­nantly in the front row, to deal with.

With their top three props un­avail­able, the back­benchers stepped up.

The late re­lease of Tyrel Lo­max was a bonus, the big man step­ping up when Isaac Salmon went off with a head knock, Tom Hill per­formed ad­mirably and rookie Drew Petelo stood up in the fran­tic fi­nal min­utes.

Ver­non Fred­er­icks cel­e­brated his 50th match with a typ­i­cal, ac­cu­rate hard-graft­ing per­for­mance.

His com­bi­na­tion with fel­low loosies Ethan Black­ad­der and Jor­dan Tau­fua is build­ing with each out­ing.

Mitch Hunt was an­other to im­press, his foot­work and vi­sion be­gin­ning to pay div­i­dends.

Next week the Makos meet South­land at Trafal­gar Park, 4.35pm on Sun­day.

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