There was a good vibe in the air at QBE Stadium, and the underdog tag is something Harbour fans have embraced over the last couple of seasons. This game was always going to be a tough one as Tasman have deserved title contender status with their current form. However, Harbour have been something of an achilles heel for the Union from the top of the 03, and since the inception in 06, the win / loss record prior to this game reads Played 9, Harbour 6, Tasman 3, Draws 1,so they are always great games.
Tasman started out the way they meant to continue with strong challenges over the ball, and targetting Harbours midfield to try to break the line. Both 10s were in outstanding early form with the boot, with Harbour pivot Bryn Gatland janding several kick centimetres inside the chalk, and Mitch Hunt's booming punt getting Tasman out of their red zone several times in the first 20.
The scoreboard operators weren't bothered too much in the early stages with a penalty apiece in the first 14 minutes, but great ball retention and forward / back interchange sent Mako wing Tima Faingaanuku over the corner in the tackle of Shaun Stevenson, which Hunt duly converted from the sideline, to have the visitors leading 10-3 after 15.
5 minutes later Harbour lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti powered over after some sharp Harbour forward momentum, and Gatland added 2 to draw level at 10-10, but Tasman replied immediately with a great try to Fullback Will Jordan following a slick blindside wing move which sent Fainganuku slicing through Harbours defence, and passing to Jordan who dotted down in the left wing corner. Hunt was on song again with the boot to put the visitors 17-10 up after 24.
Shannon Frizzell scored again for the Mako just before half time so as we went to the sheds Mako were 22-13 up.
The second half saw a momentum swing and Harbour came out determined. The Gatland / Duffie combination worked its magic and as a pinpoint Gatland wipers kick came down on the Tasman corner flag, Matt Duffie sailed above the defence, caught it on his fingertips, and scored in the corner with centimetres between him and the sideline. An astounding try he had no right to score, but one that sparked the Harbour second half. Gatland converted to make it 20-22 to Tasman, but that was the final scoring by our boys in the Hibiscus.
A ruck infringement saw Harbour Prop Chris Eves receive a yellow card, and another penalty by Hunt plus a converted try to Man of the Match, Tasman halfback Finlay Christie meant the visitors pegged one back on us winning 32-20.
As we enter "Storm Week", our next game is Sunday 9th away to Wellington, and our next home game is the following Wednesday Sept 12 v Canterbury.
QBE NORTH HARBOUR 20 (Cowley-Tuioti, Duffie tries, Gatland 2c 2p)
Tasman 32 (Faingaanuku, Jordan, Frizzell, Christie tries, Hunt 3c 2p)
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