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Tasman make final with win over Bulls

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/10/2016 Angelo Risso

Tasman will contest the NPC final against Canterbury after trumping Taranaki 41-29 in New Plymouth.

A closely fought contest was settled on either side of the break, with the Makos running in three tries to give their opponents too much to do.

They will now head to Christchurch to take on Canterbury, who earlier defeated Counties Manukau 22-7 at home.

The Bulls got off to the perfect start on home turf, crossing through All Blacks midfielder Seta Tamanivalu in the fifth minute.

Makos playmaker Marty Banks pegged Taranaki back with a penalty goal ten minutes later, before edging into the lead with a Ross Geldenhuys lunge across the line.

Taranaki then had a try ruled out for knock-on, before finally making their attacking pressure count through a barging Jonathan Faauli effort.

Yet Tasman hit back quickly when second-five Alex Nankivell broke straight through the middle to score and fullback Mitch Hunt nabbed his own five-pointer.

Heading into the break 24-12 ahead, Tasman found themselves in the driving seat for their first grand final appearance since 2014.

The Nelson-based side wasted no time pushing further in front, with Billy Guyton going over under the posts.

But the Bulls returned serve with a breakaway Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi try down the left flank in the 50th minute.

Italy-bound Banks claimed a penalty goal as the minutes ticked away, before Taranaki picked up another five-pointer through winger Declan O'Donnell.

The pressure was rising on Tasman, with Bulls skipper Mitch Croswell crossing in the 73rd minute to narrow the gap to five.

Yet a valuable Makos steal with just minutes remaining gave the side some breathing space, and a last-minute Banks try settled the contest.

Banks, who ended the match with 21 points, will now look to leave his province a champion next week.

"I'm just stoked to get past a really good Taranaki team," flanker Shane Christie said.

"We finished that first half really well."

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