ITM Cup 2013
Tasman humiliate Otago in Nelson
September 7, 2013
It took seven years and eight matches for Tasman to get their first ITM Cup win over Otago, and the Makos made it one worth waiting for.
Tasman's emphatic 49-16 win over Otago, their first over their southern opponents since their inception in 2006, was highlighted by a brace to James Lowe as Nelsonians celebrated in style.
For Otago, the match was supposed to be an indicator of the side's ability to bounce back from their disappointing one-point loss to Hawke's Bay a week earlier and surrendering the Ranfurly Shield in their first defence.
In the end, the visitors were left with a hangover perhaps even more severe than when they were downed in Dunedin. This was history of a different kind, and one they won't be able to hide from quickly.
It will take some beating, too. Otago looked to be in control in the opening quarter of the match as they took a 10-3 lead with a maiden try to prop Craig Millar.
From there it was all Tasman as the visitors were twice reduced to 14 men which effectively ended the contest.
The first yellow card, to wing Kieran Moffat, ended the southerners' surprising lead as Tasman went on a 17-point run en route to a 20-13 half-time lead.
Otago might have got the first points of the second half but from there it was again all the hosts as Tasman scored three tries - including Lowe's brace - to sound a warning to the rest of the ITM Cup Championship.
For Otago coach Tony Brown, the match represents one of the lowest in his short tenure at the head of the Razorbacks. The six-tries-to-one drubbing illustrated a difference in passion, while the absence of Tom Donnelly and Liam Coltman in the first half proved costly.
That being said, Coltman's impact was only able to be felt for 30 minutes after he was the second of two Otago players to be sent off.
Their fate sealed, Otago's heads were slumped with 15 minutes to go, a sign of the reality of the 33-point defeat.
Tasman's 29-point second half was inspired by star utility Robbie Malneek's return from a hamstring injury. He was emphatic on attack and featured prominently in two of the hosts' second tries.
They were also served well by Tom and James Marshall, the former proving a scintillating grubber kick to give substitute Mitchell Scott a try and the sixth of the night for the hosts.
Otago's task doesn't get any easier. They travel to Canterbury to take on the five-time defending champions next Saturday. Tasman, meanwhile, travel to Albany to take on the winless North Harbour in a week's time.
Not before coach Kieran Keane and his side crack open a well-deserved bottle of Tasman Bitter, however. The ITM Cup Championship is well and truly alive in Nelson and Blenheim - just ask the Makos.
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