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Fins up as fans everywhere relish victory
Big win seen from stands, bar and sidelines
The Tasman Makos 26-6 win over Canterbury at Trafalgar Park on Saturday was the biggest in the union’s short history. The Nelson Mail went behind the scenes to report on the night from three different perspectives.
The stands – Jonathan Carson
The crowd boos as Canterbury takes the field. A man cups his hands around his mouth and yells, “Go home, Canterbury! Go home!” A wave of noise surges as the Makos run out. Feet stomping on steel, hands clapping, and shrieks of “Go the Makos!”
The atmosphere isn’t electric. It isn’t tense. It’s surprisingly calm at Trafalgar Park tonight. The crowd’s mood heaves with the on-field action. The bleachers are full, but there’s plenty of standing room. A flock of seagulls swoops overhead. The place erupts when James Lowe scores early. A young guy wearing a red, white and blue bucket hat arrives about 7:20. “Holy s…, 16 minutes gone. I thought it was 7.30 kick off.” He’s had a few beers at home, he says. Children are playing their own rugby games on the grass. Members of the Tasman Hammerheads fan club are hooting and laughing and drinking. There’s a pile of crushed Speight’s cans at their feet.
“Let’s go, Makos. Let’s go,” they chant. A gang of kids shout “Taaaasmaaaan” at a lone Canterbury supporter. The seagulls sit on the stadium roof – best view in the house. The crowd goes quiet for a Marty Banks penalty attempt in the second half.
“It’sssssssssssss oh . . . just under the bar,” the commentator falters. The weather’s cool, but calm.
“We’ll beat Taranaki,” a confident fan says with 25 minutes left to play. The seagulls have gone now. They know it’s in the bag. A hum builds to a roar as the clock ticks down. “You beauty!” the commentator howls at the final whistle. Another One Bites the Dust booms as fans funnel out the exits.
The sidelines – Phillip Rollo
Shane Christie unwraps the taping around his head. He is bloodied, he is bruised, he is relieved. The job is done.
The Tasman Makos captain was on crutches the day before. Tonight he was in the thick of the action, leading his team to victory to secure a spot in the ITM Cup Premiership final.
Now, Christie isn’t jumping around celebrating the historic feat. He does interviews with media, hugs his team-mates and goes to speak with proud friends, family and fans.
“The boys are bloody proud Tasman Bay boys and they love putting on a show,” he says.
Robbie Malneek, the most capped Tasman Mako of all, is adamant this is the biggest game in the union’s history, and the crowd and result make for a perfect ending.
“There was a bit of nerves and a bit of excitement but the boys just got it done.”
Dozens of young fans line up for autographs at full-time. One even asks if Malneek will sign a football.
Throughout the game the players and staff watched on as the Makos built up a comfortable buffer and let Marty Banks take shots at goal.
Tim Perry, injured early, spends most of the game chatting to the mini Mako on the night, who won the chance to run the match ball on to the ground.
Substitute Mitchell Scott, with his slicked back hair, is often smiling with team-mates. Then he too gets the call-up to get on the field.
But just 10 metres away, the Canterbury bench look resigned to the fact they will not make it six championships in a row.
The bar – Charles Anderson
These are the ones that stay behind.
Because why would you sit around in a bar in central Nelson when, only a short 10-minute walk away, you could experience it for real?
The crowd that had gathered in the hour before kickoff at the Wakatu Hotel had dispersed through the exits. Only a few still remained.
There were two guys with All Blacks jerseys and one guy with a trophy he had just won from some unknown sporting event.
It is a quiet sitting in Makos central. On the big screen Nelson looks packed. Wait until after the match, someone says. It will pick up.
The game unfolds. There are subtle cheers as the scoreline expands.
“That looked easy,” someone says as the timer counts down.
The full time whistle blows and the crowds that had vacated earlier stumble back in wearing Makos jerseys and boiler suits.
As the All Blacks match begins four young men appear in the corner. They scream rugby aphorisms, attempt a haka themselves and swig from vodka RTD bottles.
Slowly, through the windows of the bar, the heroes themselves can be seen. The Makos, changed into ties and shirts, bags slung over their shoulders, walk back into town triumphant. Through the windows punters give them a thumbs up, a fins up, a “good game”, a “great game”. And the players grin back. Soon it is difficult to move through the bar.
The All Blacks sneak a last minute conversion to win and the party carries on into the night.
- The Nelson Mail