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Coach impressed with Tasman's pre-season opening win

Shannon Frizell, in action here against Taranaki last season, made an outstanding contribution to Tasman's win.
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Shannon Frizell, in action here against Taranaki last season, made an outstanding contribution to Tasman's win.

Tasman Makos head coach Leon MacDonald hasn't watched much local club rugby this season but was impressed with Wednesday's by-product as his Tasman Emerging Players overwhelmed the Counties Cavaliers 49-26 in Mangere.

The Crusaders assistant coach, MacDonald took advantage of the Super Rugby break to join his players for their first pre-season hit-out of the season. And after watching them run in seven converted tries, he couldn't help but be impressed.

"There were some absolutely stand-out performances from some guys and the physicality of the game was impressive," MacDonald said.

"Both teams brought a lot of intensity in the tackle and the breakdown and it was a big step up from club rugby."

Tasman led 28-14 at the break following first half tries to wingers Johnny Ika and Fletcher Matthews, centre Rupena Parkinson and flanker Tone Ng Shiu.

They added a further three in the second half, two of them to substitute hooker Pelefoti Siaki, with reserve winger Tomas Aoake completing the haul.

The game produced plenty of ball movement from both sides and effective scrambling defence by the Tasman players in what MacDonald described as "a good day out".

"Some of the young guys I haven't seen a lot of and they were really impressive."

Some of the more established players also played significant roles.

"[Lock] Shannon Frizell was outstanding, we know he's a quality player and he was massive today.

"[Captain and flanker] Ethan Blackadder has shown that he's taken his game to another level."

The halves pairing of Ben Finau and Tim O'Malley showed excellent control and distribution, with O'Malley also kicking six conversions before fullback Andrew Knewstubb added the seventh.

The pacey Ika showed some clever touches in broken play, as did No 8 Vern Fredericks who created the break for Aoake's second half try. Hooker Sam Moli showed plenty of maturity in his first year out of college.

"Our set piece was pretty solid for not a massively big pack and Drew Petelo did a good job at tighthead [prop] early on and gave us a good scrum. So there were some good performances all round really."

Substitute prop Eden Beech and halfback Jack Grooby also slotted in seamlessly off the bench.

MacDonald said the focus now was to fine-tune specific areas such as the tackle and breakdown ahead of their next pre-season clash with Manawatu in Palmerston North on August 2.

AT A GLANCE

Tasman Emerging Players 49 (Pelefoti Siaki 2, Johnny Ika, Fletcher Matthews, Rupena Parkinson, Tone Ng Shiu, Tomas Aoake tries, Tim O'Malley 6 con, Andrew Knewstubb con) Counties Cavaliers 26 (Matt Vaai, Gafa Su'a, Feta Luamanu, Sepu Taufa tries, Luteru Laulala 2 con, Jared Page con) HT: 28-14