Tries galore as B teams fight out draw

Tasman B loose forward Taine Cragg-Love attempts to shrug off the tackle of Wellington B fullback Connor Garden-Bachop during the match at Lansdowne Park on Saturday. Photo: Peter Jones.

The Mako B team and their Wellington counterparts made the most of balmy spring conditions at Lansdowne Park on Saturday to turn on a 14-try bonanza.

In the end the sides had to settle for a share of the spoils after a highly-entertaining 47-47 draw.

The visitors had the upper hand, on the scoreboard at least, for most of the contest. They led 33-19 at halftime and held a 47-40 advantage with full time up on the clock. However Tasman had the final say when winger Timoci Tavatavanawai dived over for his third try and replacement first five Campbell Parata nailed a tricky conversion to force the stalemate.

Both sides possessed players with Mitre 10 Cup experience and brought intensity, pace and power to the contest.

The set pieces were relatively even, while the battle at the breakdown was also well-balanced, offering both sides plenty of quick ball and scoring opportunities.

The Mako front row of Ryan Coxon, Pino Maupese and Sam Matenga were strong, along with powerhouse lock Isaiah Miller and the hard-working Hopoate Taufa at lock.

Skipper Taina Fox-Matamua, alongside flankers Taine Cragg-Love and Tim Sail brought energy and powerful carries to the mix

Welsh halfback Declan Smith scored twice and cleared well, while centre Mike Vaeno made sure he made an impact on proceedings.

Electric winger Tavatavanawai, who bagged a hat-trick, continually demonstrated his wonderful ability to break clear of tackles and extricate himself from the midst of tight defence.

Parata, halfback Nemia Ranuku and Rahiri Witehira added good value off the bench.

Wellington’s backline was marshalled superbly by Laursen, a former Harlequins player who picked up 22 points on a ground he is well familiar with.

Outside him Thomas Umaga-Jensen and fullback Connor Garden-Bachop underlined their vast potential, while wingers Nash Fiso and Losi Filipo were fast and elusive.

Prop Morgan Poi, lock Josh Toomaga No 8 Luke Tau’alupe plus flankers Jordan Gillies and Parekura Lalaga were the pick of the visiting crew.

The Mako B side have just concluded their South Island season.

They played three times, losing to Southland 38-33 in their first encounter, beating Canterbury 22-20 then Otago 63-17 but their loss to the Stags meant they finished second overall in the group. They finish their season with a return match against Canterbury in Kaikoura next weekend.

Tasman Mako B 47 (Taina Fox-Matamua, Isaiah Miller, Declan Smith 2, Timoci Tavatavanawai 3 tries, Sam Briggs 4 con, Campbell Parata 2 con) Wellington B 47 (Brandyn Laursen 2, Josh Houston-Tupou, Morgan Poi, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Nash Fiso, Connor Garden-Bachop tries, Laursen 6 con). HT: 33-19 Wellington.

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