Bulls’ late revival falls short
Playoff hopes up in the air after going down to Tasman
An attempted second-half comeback by Taranaki wasn’t enough to secure their second win of the season after a 38-27 loss to Tasman in Nelson.
The loss is Taranaki’s fifth in the national provincial championship and will make it difficult to enter the playoffs.
Down 28-6 in the second half, in the first match against Tasman since 2019, Taranaki played with plenty of confidence for the first time in the match after they narrowed the margin to within eight points.
Taranaki scored 14 unanswered points with spectacular runs down the edges by a handful of players including Kini Naholo, Matty McKenzie and Meihana Grindlay.
But it was Naholo and Tom Florence who dotted down with McKenzie able to kick the two conversions in place of Daniel Waite, to close the gap. Waite failed his concussion test in the second stanza after kicking two first-half penalties.
In the first half, Tasman showed more energy with the ball, with three converted first-half tries. Promising halfback Noah Notham, who played well all game, scored a brace from scrums close to the line with the place kicking of Willy Havili accurate.
The 21-6 score at halftime wasn’t a reflection of Tasman’s dominance,
more the ability to pounce on Taranaki’s errors.
Taranaki managed to string plenty of phases together, with one period over 20 phases, but were unable to convert that momentum into points.
After the break, it seemed to get worse for Taranaki when strong midfielder Levi Aumua busted through close to the line with Havili able to slot his fourth conversion.
Taranaki then started to fire with back-to-back tries after a long period of the match was played between the 22m lines.
There was a sense of belief for Taranaki, but errors again cost opportunities close to the line and Tasman were able to kick downfield.
Tasman scored two late tries before Logan Crowley scored for Taranaki with two minutes remaining.
Injuries continue to hamper Taranaki with Waite, Isaac RatumaitavuiKneepkens and Daniel Rona leaving the field in the second half. The trio’s niggles are on top of the injury list, but some could be back within the next week or so.
Taranaki has a quick turnaround with their next game against Manawatu¯ on Friday at Yarrow Stadium.