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Tasman B team leave it late to beat Wellington

Tasman B winger Johnny Ika is all aggression against Wellington B at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Tasman B winger Johnny Ika is all aggression against Wellington B at Lansdowne Park on Saturday.

A 79th minute penalty goal to James Hawkey clinched Tasman B's 29-27 win over their Wellington counterparts in Blenheim on Saturday.

Victory to the home side ensured a notable double, with Canterbury B and Wellington being overcome in consecutive weeks. However Saturday's win wasn't without some anxious moments.

The capital side led 27-26 with six minutes remaining before Hawkey was given the chance to seal the deal from 40 metres out. He watched the kick anxiously, then breathed a sigh of relief as it deflected off the left upright and dropped over the crossbar.

Willis Scott, Tasman's No 8, attempts to power through a would-be Wellington tackler.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Willis Scott, Tasman's No 8, attempts to power through a would-be Wellington tackler.

Tasman were ahead 18-13 at halftime in an evenly-matched encounter, their five point lead the largest margin of the match. After two penalties apiece from goalkickers Hawkey and Wellington fullback Andrew Wells, Tasman winger Johnny Ika produced a moment of magic to score the first try. When Wellington muffed their kick-off reception Ika toed the ball ahead, then snapped it up near the line to dot down. 

The visitors replied five minutes later, hard-working prop Chris Mafi burrowing over from a forward drive. Wells' sideline conversion gave Wellington their first lead of a see-sawing encounter but the home side had the final say before the break. After a snappy multi-phase build-up, an inside ball put centre Fletcher Matthews into space and he dashed to the line.

The visitors came out with added purpose after the break, some clever work by first five Piri Paraone and midfielder Perry Hayman earning field position, from where flanker Sam Coventry forced his way over, levelling the scores.

Tasman lock Mike Curry charges into Wellington territory.
RICKY WILSON/STUFF

Tasman lock Mike Curry charges into Wellington territory.

With halfback Ken Kapeli and rampaging No 8 Matt Peni to the fore, Wellington seized control, moving ahead with a Paraone penalty on the 60 minute mark. 

A try to replacement midfielder Chris Kerslake after an irresistible build-up pushed Tasman back in front 23-21 before the nail-biting conclusion. With the penalties beginning to flow from referee Mike Lash's whistle, the rival goalkickers alternated successful goal kicks until Hawkey had the final say.

Both sides endeavoured to use the ball, content to retain possession rather than kick for position. The breakdown battle was hard-fought, any fall off in intensity leading to a turnover, of which there were plenty.

Tasman, who used their full bench to good effect, had few individual stars, relying on a committed defensive effort and patient build-up to get the job done, albeit late in the piece.

Front rowers Sam Moli and Drew Petelo carried strongly, Willis Scott and Braden Stewart were prominent in the loose, while halfbacks Ben Finau and Jack Grooby added spark to the mix. Matthews, Kerslake and Hawkey provided solidarity in the inside back division, while Ika and fullback Sam Chamberlain made the most of the ball that came their way. 

Wells, Hayman, Paraone and Kapeli stood out in the visiting backline, with Peni, locks Anthony Pettett and Taisson Lealaisalanoa, and Mafi shining up front.     

Tasman B 29 (Johnny Ika, Fletcher Matthews, Chris Kerslake tries, James Hawkey 4 pen, con) Wellington B 27 (Chris Mafi, Sam Coventry tries, Andrew Wells 2 pen, con, Piri Paraone 3 pen). HT: 18-13 Tasman B