Banks cashes in on record-breaking win
First five-eighths Marty Banks continued to write himself into Tasman's record books as he guided the province to a superb 64-28 win over Waikato on Wednesday night.
The eight-tries-to-four victory was a record-breaking performance for a number of reasons. It was Tasman's largest win over Waikato in seven matches while the 59 points scored was the most in their history, surpassing the 57 they scored against Northland in 2006. The defeat was one to forget for Waikato, who fell to a record defeat, surpassing the 58 points Canterbury pasted on them in 1995.
While Investec Super Rugby side, the Chiefs won't be too rapt with how one of their provincial unions fared, they will be very satisfied to see all three of their recent signings - James Lowe, Liam Squire and Tom Marshall - all scoring for the Championship-leading Makos.
Tasman's performance hardly showed that of a union in its seventh provincial season. Their history-making efforts in 2013 have so far included a first-ever win over Otago, while they now find themselves in pole position as the end of the round robin phase of the Championship looms.
Waikato's inability to snare a bonus point means their match against Bay of Plenty on Saturday will be all the more important for both sides in the battle to avoid relegation to the Championship.
If there was a key difference between the two teams it was experience. Lock Alex Ainley became the third Tasman player to reach 50 ITM Cup matches for the province in 2013. By contrast, Waikato handed four players their debuts as they lamented the loss of no less than eight first-team players.
The difference in physicality, in tempo, in all aspects of the game was easily visible as Tasman oozed class until the final quarter of the game, when the hosts had raced to a 54-14 lead before two late tries thinned the deficit somewhat.
While Tasman secured the spoils it was Banks who was the benefactor. His fifth conversion of the evening saw him reach 101 ITM Cup points in just his fifth match since making his debut for the province. He was called into action soon after to finish the match with 103 points.
The boy from Buller has totalled 52 points in his last two matches following a 28-point exhibition against Northland a week earlier.
Tasman were dominant from the start and played the match at an electric pace. Their willingness to play at pace and tire their opponents worked a treat. As a result, the hosts scored at a point-a-minute for the opening 15 minutes before two late tries inflated their advantage to 33-7 at half-time.
Waikato looked as if they had scored the final points of the half when Vance Elliott scored after 33 minutes only for a piece of Tom Marshall brilliance on the half-time whistle ensuring Tasman held a 26-point lead at half time.
Lock Joe Wheeler scored Tasman's bonus-point try early in the second half before Latu Talakai saw Waikato reduce the deficit to 26 with 27 minutes to play. But Tasman wouldn't be denied history as they stamped their mark on the ITM Cup Championship.
Squire's athletic finish made mockery of his position as a No.8, with the fleet-footed forward undoubtedly impressing new suitors, the Chiefs, with his fourth try of the season. His Makos and fellow new Chiefs recruit, Lowe, was in minutes later to see Tasman pass 50 points.
Ainley's 50th match for Tasman was soured somewhat when he was red carded by referee Mike Fraser for a lifting tackle on debutant Niko Malo.
Josh Tyrell ensured he had a debut to remember with a late try for Waikato as he slipped past three defenders to start his ITM Cup career on a high note. It was a moment that Waikato seemed to take advantage of as they secured a bonus-point try to Toby Smith.
Waikato were embarrassed when flanker Tevita Koloamatagi outpaced and outstepped Tasman wing Semisi Masirewa to surpass their highest ever total in an ITM Cup match, a record that was increased when Squire scored his second on the full-time whistle.
Tasman 64 (Liam Squire 2, Mitchell Scott, Robbie Malneek, Tom Marshall, Joe Wheeler, James Lowe, Tevita Koloamatagi tries; Marty Banks 6 con, 4 pen) Waikato 28 (Vance Elliott, Latu Talakai, Josh Tyrell, Toby Smith tries; Trent Renata 4 con) HT: 26-7.