New Zealand Cup
Tasman unlucky against Southland
September 19, 2008
Blair Stewart kicked Southland to victory
© Getty Images
Southland came away from Landsdowne Park with four points after beating Tasman 6-3 in an eighth-round Air NZ Cup match tonight but they will not be feeling too contented with their performance.
Tasman, likely playing their last home game at Cup level as Nelson and Malborough rugby followers contemplate life in the Heartland competition next year, will feel more than a little disappointed with the result.
After last week's 21-21 draw with Otago, they needed a win to keep their hopes of a top eight playoffs spot intact. The one point for finishing within seven points tonight will be little consolation as they complete their regular season programme with away matches against Wellington and Manawatu.
It will also be more than a little disappointing because Tasman, seventh in the table going into the match, dominated the game in terms of possession and territory. But they were unable to make the pass that would unlock the Southland defence.
Southland, when they leave their passion at home as they did tonight, looked decidedly flat after their rousing 43-7 win over North Harbour in the last round. The four points, however, keep them in the running to make the top four and host a quarter-final match.
Tasman's had a strong first half, with wings Blair Cook and Afeleki Perenise, flanker Jack Lam and centre Kade Poki outstanding. But lack of precision in transferring the ball with the Southland defence half-broken saw them turn the ball over time after time.
Perenise produced a couple of tackle-busting runs but his efforts petered out due to lack of support.
Southland got on the board early with first five-eighth Blair Stewart kicking a 40-metre penalty and that was all the scoring the first half contained.
Tasman equalised 11 minutes after the breather with a Miah Nikora penalty and then were unable to take advantage of the sinbinning of Southland lock Daniel Ramsay in the 35th minute.
Nikora missed two penalties in that time and Southland cleverly changed tactics in the final 10 minutes, pumping aerial balls back into the Tasman half at every opportunity.
It paid off when a high return from fullback Robbie Robinson was fumbled by Tasman, who then conceded a penalty.
Stewart nailed his placekick and Southland, who now draw level on 24 points, with Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay, who play tomorrow, saw out the match comfortably.
Result of an Air NZ Cup rugby match played at Blenheim tonight:
Southland: 6 (Blair Stewart 2 pen) Tasman: 3 (Miah Nikora pen). Halftime: 3-0.
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