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Mako book Trafalgar date with Steamers [Peter Jones]

Mako book Trafalgar date with Steamers

By Peter Jones [Marlborough Weekly / Marlborough App]

As a semifinal rehearsal it left a lot to be desired, but the Mako got the job done in Dunedin on Saturday. 

For the eighth consecutive season Tasman will feature in the Mitre 10 Cup play-offs. 

The Mako have been around at the business end of the season since 2013, when they made it all the way to the championship final, then tipped over Hawke’s Bay to join the premiership. 

Their pathway to the pinnacle of the top tier in 2019 is well documented and they have earned another tilt at the NPC crown. 

They made hard work of beating a handy Otago outfit 26-20, mixing ill-discipline, errors and questionable option-taking with enough moments of superb individual and collective effort to prevail. 

Mako co-head coach Andrew Goodman was relieved to reach another semifinal, suggesting his team did “what they came down to Dunedin to do”. 

“We had to win today, not only to make the play-offs, but also to get the belief going into the semis. 

“It has been a funny old week, with everyone right in [the semifinal mix] … going through the various permutations. 

“But it’s nice to know that we will be at home at Trafalgar Park next weekend for a semifinal. 

“Whatever four teams end up in the semis, it’s going to be all about who turns up on the day isn’t it? You can see that with the results throughout the competition, no-one has grabbed it by the throat this year.     

“We will just have to prepare well, get the bodies fresh and the minds sharp and look forward to a good crowd in Nelson. I can’t wait for finals football.” 

The depth of the Mako squad, which has been severely depleted up front by untimely injuries, retirements and All Blacks commitments, continues to be tested.  

“Injuries are part of the game,” said Goodman, “all squads are going through that.  

“Some of our guys that have come back in the last few weeks are stepping up for us, like Taina Fox-Matamua who had his best game of the season today. Anton Segner also brought some good energy when he got on late … we just have to back the boys and trust they will do their job.” 

The Mako will take on Bay of Plenty in the semifinals after the Steamers scraped past North Harbour on Sunday.  

The well-coached and super-fit North Islanders will provide a stern test for a Tasman side yet to fire on all cylinders for the majority of the 80 minutes.  

Tasman downed the Bay 33-7 in Nelson during round five, but the Steamers have been on five-match winning roll since then, including a 44-8 win over Canterbury, who beat Tasman 29-0 two weeks ago. 

The Mako based their earlier win over the Steamers on rugged defence, a dominant scrum and clinical attack. 

They will not have to deviate far from that template to get the job done on Saturday but, as Goodman suggested, it will all depend on who turns up [mentally and physically] on the day. 

Saturday’s Trafalgar Park semifinal kicks off at 7.05pm. In the other premiership semi Auckland meet Waikato. 

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