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Tasman U20's score first win of series [Nelson Mail]

Lucuster Mati
BARRY WHITNALL/Shuttersport
POWERFUL FORCE: Continuous aggressive driving play from Number 8 Lucuster Mati helped give Tasman the edge against Canterbury Country on Saturday.

Tasman breathed fresh life into their South Island under-20 rugby campaign with a 14-3 win over Canterbury Country at Trafalgar Park on Saturday.

Both teams endured miserable weather conditions as a wet and slippery ball contributed to a frustrating afternoon for players and spectators alike. And while Tasman never looked in danger of losing the game, they were constantly thwarted by handling errors as defenders continued to dislodge the ball in tackles.

A superior Tasman scrum and aggressive, driving play from No 8 Lucuster Mati, flanker Dan Hytongue and lock Peter Brown helped give Tasman an edge over an otherwise feisty Canterbury forward pack.

Tasman scored the game's only two tries, taking a 7-3 halftime lead following an excellent try to fullback Latham Jones after the home team had battled into a strong first-half wind.

Second five-eighth Jesse Pitman sparked the attack in the 31st minute, breaking clean through Country's backline just out from his 22m line before unleashing Jones out wide. Jones still had plenty of work to do, eventually cutting inside to score handy to the posts.

Tasman's second-half try, scored by lock Jeremy Foley just eight minutes after the restart, also featured fullback Jones after he had breached the defence down a narrow blindside before feeding Foley for a 25m run to the line.

Halfback Jackson Harvey's excellent sideline conversion completed the scoring. Country's only scoring contribution was a 17th-minute penalty success by their first five-eighth Simon Page, with Country rarely able to threaten Tasman's line.

Tasman created numerous attacking opportunities only to lose the ball in the tackle and help relieve pressure on a stretched Country defence.

Mati was conspicuous with some damaging early carries, accompanied typically by a powerful fend, with Hytongue, Brown, Tyler Kearns and Reuben Northover also maintaining hefty work rates. Pitman, Jones and right wing Jade Bevan constantly threatened on attack.

No 8 Matt Stone and flanker Joe McRae were prominent in Country's forward effort, while Page looked a handy organiser at No 10.

It was Tasman's first win of the series, having lost 15-6 to Canterbury Metro the previous weekend in Blenheim.

They head to Christchurch next weekend for consecutive games against the Otago under-19s and Otago Country under-20s.

AT A GLANCE

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Tasman under-20s 14 (Latham Jones, Jeremy Foley tries, Jackson Harvey 2 cons) Canterbury Country under-20s 3 (Simon Page pen) Ht 7-3.