Titans win, but errors a concern
Story by: Wayne Martin - The Nelson Mail - Photo by: Evan Barnes / Shuttersport
The Tasman Titans got their representative season back on track with a decisive 42-26 win over the Southland Rams in Christchurch on Sunday.
It was the Titans' second win of the South Island interdistricts rugby league competition, following consecutive losses to the Canterbury under-20s and Canterbury A. But after beating West Coast in their opening match of the season, Titans coach Phil Bergman was satisfied to have taken the points off a physical and aggressive Southland side at Halswell Domain.
Bergman said it was obvious by their approach that Southland were determined to secure their first win of the season after three straight losses. Tasman led throughout, however, scoring five first-half tries to lead 28-10 at the break before adding a further three tries in the second half.
Centre Jamein Bristowe, halfback Eliot Smith, centre Sam Hedges and loose forward Phil Asi scored first-half tries before Joe Yalayala sealed the half just before the break with a spectacular solo 80m run for Tasman's fifth. Bistowe, Smith and standoff Hayden Smith scored in the second half.
Southland's physical attitude eventually resulted in their loose forward, Brenton Howden, being sent off after a fight with around 10 minutes remaining. Tasman's Corey Kelly was also sinbinned in the same incident.
Tasman's defence improved significantly from the previous week's mauling against Canterbury A, although Bergman said his players were still prone to frustrating lapses and handling errors which needed to be eradicated from their game.
"There are still errors, and I'm not sure why they keep coming into our game.
"It's still unacceptable if we want to truly have a shot of winning it, and our penalty rate made it too easy for the other team. We're giving them leg-ups all the time with penalties."
A feature of Tasman's defensive effort was having to defend at least six sets of six on their own line after they incurred a string of penalties.
"When we focused on [defence], we were very good, and our game plan play was quite superb sometimes," said Bergman.
"If we hold the ball, we'll be competitive against most teams in this comp.
"Our general play has improved a lot over the last few weeks but we still haven't hit our best game, and we're probably a little way off that. We're getting there; we're getting a little bit better every week.
"Some things we're getting very good, other things we still have to learn a bit more."
Bristowe was a standout in the centres for Tasman alongside an equally effective Sam Hedges, with Danny Ruapapere, Ricky Ryan and interchange player Brendon Ross also impressing.
"I'm as satisfied as you can be with the two points – that was our goal – and a little bit frustrated that we can't rid our game of some of those [errors] that keep reappearing," Bergman said. "We'll work hard to fix that up."
Tasman return to Christchurch next Saturday for their final round-robin match, against the Otago Whalers.
Tasman Titans 42 (Jamein Bristowe 2, Eliot Smith 2, Sam Hedges, Phil Asi, Joe Yalayala, Hayden Smith tries, Hayden Smith 5 cons) Southland Rams 26 (Daniel Lowe, Zac Archer, Billy Cooper, Shannon Gage, Nic Ah Kuoi tries, Dan Nihau 3 cons) Ht 28-10.