Wellington Defeat Tasman in Close Bunnings NPC Battle
Mid-week rugby in New Zealand provincial championship, the Bunnings NPC, has produced another nail-biting encounter, with Wellington coming away the victors against Tasman on Wednesday evening.
With both sides needing a win to keep their seasons on track, it was Wellington who came up with the goods on the day, and got the job done over their rivals from the south.
We look at how the match unfolded and what this has done to the rugby odds ahead of this weekend’s Round Six in the Bunnings NPC.
Two Teams Desperate to Regain Momentum
Heading into this season, both Wellington and Tasman were highly touted to win the Bunnings NPC 2022.
For Tasman, they have won two of the past three seasons, finishing runner-up last year to Waikato in the grand final. For Wellington, they named a strong squad this season with several ex-All Blacks, and were looking well placed to repeat their 2019 run to the final, or even go one better.
However, ahead of last night’s clash between the two, both teams were sitting outside of the top four in their respective pools. Halfway through the season, and Tasman held a record of two wins, three losses, while Wellington were marginally better, with three wins and two losses. In such a cutthroat competition, both sides knew that lose at this juncture, and their season could slip away; win, and they’d be back in the running.
It was to be Wellington who would regain the momentum, propelling themselves into third place in their pool, level with Hawkes Bay on 19 points, while Tasman slip further away from the playoffs, four points adrift of North Harbour in fifth place.
Wellington Beat Tasman 25-19 in Controversial Encounter
The manner in which Wellington defeated Tasman was far from dramatic.
Coming away victors by six points, many will look back on this match as a blight against New Zealand refereeing.
The first half an hour of the match saw a solitary penalty kick to Tasman, with the hosts leading 3-0. A try was disallowed to Tasman for a forward pass, before Wellington scored in the corner at the half-hour mark to make the score line 5-3. However, despite going to the TMO for review, a blatant hand-in touch from Connor Garden-Bachop was missed, and the try awarded. Fans watching on TV and commentators were outraged at the error, and wondering what it would cost Tasman.
From there, Wellington extended their lead, with Sione Halalilo scoring just before halftime to make it 12-3. The TMO again featured, with a marginal-looking pass being ruled as not forward, despite a similar Tasman passing leading to a disallowed try earlier in the half. Penalty kicks, either way, meant a tight 15-6 score line at halftime.
After the break, Tasman continued to stay within striking distance through the boot of William Havili, making the score 15-12 with 20 minutes to go. A storming push to the try line by Xavier Numia soon after extended Wellington’s lead to 22-12, and while a Noah Hotham try with minutes remaining made the scoreboard competitive, all Tasman were able to salvage from the match was a losing bonus point, going down 25-19.
Tasman Favorites This Weekend Despite Loss
Despite their recent loss and overall losing record, Tasman are still favored to come away with a win this weekend against Taranaki.
In a repeat of the 2014 NPC Final, Tasman and Taranaki face off this Sunday, with Tasman the -161 favorite to defeat the struggling Taranaki. The men in black and gold are having a tough season, sitting in sixth place in the Evens Pool on six points, their solitary win this year coming against Canterbury a few weeks ago.
Bookies expect this one to be close fought, however, with Taranaki paying +130 for a win. Though the seasons of both sides may already be beyond redemption, there’s every chance this will still be a hard-fought arm wrestle.
Wellington Look to Make It Four in a Row Against Otago
After a tough start to their season, Wellington are now looking to score their fourth consecutive win by defeating Otago this weekend.
Coming off their win over Tasman, Wellington are favored to do the same to Otago, with the bookies putting them at -182 to win, against Otago’s chances of +145. Given that their last encounter, in a friendly match last year, was a 33-28 win to Otago, this should be a close match.
Otago are sitting just outside the top four in the Odds Pool, and will be looking to pick up an upset win here in order to keep their season on track.
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