Right my overall impressions. The Bay were slightly slow out of the blocks and Tasman had the upper hand early on with most of the possession. The tackling was fairly solid but Tasman were not exactly creative with the ball in hand and most of their attack was through about the second man (forward) out from the maul where most of the tackling was attended to by Jason Long. Geoff Cridge also stationed himself in and around that area but it was predominantly Long that snuffed out the danger. Tasman seldom chanced their arm out wide in the backs during the first half. They also has a serious case of the dropsies a la the Blues during the first half which helped out the Bay's defensive efforts no end. Most of those spilled balls happened when they were attacking. Though the scrums in the first half were pretty even with Tasman having control of a few but when they did the Bay held them and did not go backward but were definitely looking a bit under pressure. When it was the Bays turn for dominance we did shunt them back slightly a couple times but not large distances overall. Lineouts in the first half were a bit scratchy with quite a few going to Elijah Martin. He secured them but not exactly in comfortable fashion with his lifters not always being in sync with the throw of Martin's jump. Still he at least won the throws. Can't really recall how Cridge did in the lineouts (maybe only a few, if any were called for him). The ones that were thrown to the loose forwards were successful. Can't recall any being won or lost against the throw. Maybe there was one in the second half that we stole?
The numerous props tried made it hard to keep track of them (as did the awful jersey numbers on the back which were virtually impossible to read from a distance. Whoever signed them off at the HBRFU needs to give themselves a big uppercut, especially if they did not get them for free. I mean white on white, it doesn't take a genius to know that is never going to be readable). I mostly concentrated on the two younger guys and they both had different styles of driving with the ball. Tevita-Metcalfe looked to be more upright and using upper body strength and Rakete-Stones much lower and using his pumping legs to add power to his forward thrusts. Long went off about halftime and Tevita-Metcalfe midway through the first half both later returned in the second half
although exactly when it was hard to work out as the coming and goings were almost NFL like. What I presume was Tim Farrell had about thirty minutes at loosehead and looked to be fairly competent, once giving his opponent an earful after a particularly dominant scrum. All the props got game time.
Didn't really pay much attention to the hookers although there were a couple of wobbly throws early on but we recovered from them without too much difficulty. Looked like Jacob Devery had most of the game with the replacement getting on toward the end.
Elijah Martin showed plenty of hustle and bustle in his first appearance at this level but I got the impression that he was possible struggling with the physicality and speed of the game. Still give him more time in a "professional" environment and we may see him get more used to those aspects. He did not let himself down. Certainly looked to be lacking in height but that's easy when packing down with Geoffrey Cridge who is one of the taller locks going round. Cridge played all the game and despite what the HBToday article indicated I thought he was only adequate and nothing special. Like Long he seemed to concentrate more on the defensive side of things and did not feature all that prominently on attack.
Little hard to categorise the flankers as Kaifa wore the number 6 jersey and the new guy from Taradale the number 7. Kaifa certainly endeared himself to me today as he was more prominent with the ball in hand and tackled well. Iakopo Mapu went well but was not really a standout in open play but certainly has a good sniff for the tryline. Kaifa packed down on the blindside but to me anyway he seemed to be playing more of the opensides role. I might have been a bit mistaken as he is more familiar to me that Mapu and much easier to pick out from a distance. Hannon Brighouse I can't really give a rating to as I did not spend much time watching. Seems to be a little short for the current type of No. 8 (kind of like Dale Atkins for those of use old enough to remember back that far). Don't remember any bad defensive stuff-ups at the back of the scrum nor any noticeable breaks of our defense line close in so guess he must have played his part keeping things tight there.
The starting halfback did not get off to a good start with some unusually poor passes but seemed to pick himself up after that and settle into a more productive game. Can't recall him running or kicking much so can't comment on those aspects. The bench half back only got limited game time in the second half and did not notice him on the field until about the last ten or fifteen minutes. Didn't make any major clangers or I would have noticed them. It must be remembered that Tasman did have the majority of second half ball so he did not really get much chance to show his attacking prowess.
Lincoln McClutchie was all that he has been cracked up to be with some good cleanups of some awful passes shoveled his way early on. Did not engage the opposition much physically in running with the ball preferring to time his passes to his outsides to perfection rather than taking the tackle. What was noticeable was that he looks to have added many metres to his punts from the last time I saw him play (HB under 20s v Wgtn Under 20s at Westpac last year when he did not gain much ground at all every time he kicked from hand). Well done to him for a good all round game out there today. The replacement in the umber 22 jersey did not get all that much game time and, as I have previously said looked to run a bit more than McClutchie but overall did not get much ball in attacking situations so cannot really give any rating as such. Pretty sure he did miss tough from one penalty which is always frowned upon if you are playing in my team's jersey.
The midfield starting paring of Neria Fomai and Timo Vaiusu went ok except one of them must take responsibility for the forgettable incident that resulted in the last Tasman try. Pretty sure Fomai played most of the game, moving to centre when the replacement midfielder (they guy with long hair from Taradale) came on.
The wingers were all ok without any of them showing all that much that would stick in my memory. Mason Emerson still runs hard but you get the impression that he is simply too small of stature whilst Sapsford is bigger and more powerful and has got a nice swerve and hip swivel and a moderate step that can get him into space (as does Emerson) when needed. Mike Buckley had no chances on attack but did well on defense. Penikolo Latu likewise had very little chances on attack, apart from the spectacular try from the McClutchie kick pass but he needed to pull that off to make up for what I am sticking on him for the awful rush up out of line that resulted in a Tasman try a minute later.
Don't recall if we had a replacement fullback on but the starter Saia Paese went ok considering it is not his usual position. It must be said that Tasman did not put him under much pressure through any kicks sent his way so he did have a bit of a free ride there. The jury is still out on him.
Not sure who some of the replacement forwards were but some of them were big munters and a couple of them had at least one crunching run with the ball that earned themselves a tick against their name (if only I knew who they were.)
Overall we had the more powerfully scrum when we needed to usurp dominance which we did a couple of times that warmed my heart no end. Lineouts were OK without too much in the way of fancy stuff (understandable given the paucity of training sessions). The backline play was limited with pretty much then only rehearsed moves looking like calling the blindside wingers inside and outside the first five. The fullback was called into the line a couple of times as well. Again understandable given the limited preparation time.
On the other side of the coin Tasman were pretty limited on attack in the first half playing pretty much into the wind type football and compounding things for them was poor handling. In the second half they did try to become a bit more adventurous but in most instances our defense was up to the task.
Oh just remembered I don't recall much turnover ball being lost or won. Pleasing in the first instance and not so pleasing in the second. All in all we look to have a number of players that will fill out our roster to be competitive once the Super players are added come Mitre10 Cup time. A preseason game so not too much to be read into it other than we looked good defensively and Lincoln McClutchie is as good as everyone keeps telling us he is.
HBRFU you don't get out of this scot free as apart from the jersey number problem please respect our traditions come time when official first class status is affixed to the match and make sure our team wears our official colours of black and white hooped jerseys, black shorts and black and white hooped socks. I do not want to see any sign of the faded black colour (ok lets be honest it was definitely grey that was too prevalent in the outfit worn today) anywhere near our sacred jersey in matches holding first class status.
Tyrone Dodd-Edwards will play for the All Blacks Sevens Development team in Japan, tomorrow. His name is missing from the AB7s Dev team list (published on 14 Feb), so maybe has come in as injury replacement (or the list is wrong; wouldn't be the first time).