The Tasman Mako women are off the mark.
After a couple of decent reversals in their opening two Farah Palmer Cup fixtures they bounced back with some points of their own at Trafalgar Park on Saturday.
Although well beaten, 67-24 by a slick Otago Spirit side, the Mako managed four tries to claim a hard-earned competition bonus point.
They began the game slowly, still reeling from an 88-0 loss to Manawatu last week, and were quickly behind 21-0. However they showed admirable spirit to work their way into the game.
Before halftime they had their first try, and their first points of the campaign, hooker Stephani Mitchell barging over from close range to make the score 33-5 at the break.
The Mako conceded a try immediately following the restart but immediately afterwards had their second, this time to skipper and loosehead prop Anna Bradley.
Although the Otago tries kept coming, Tasman notched a third after 60 minutes when Mitchell bagged her brace. This time the conversion from impressive right winger Eve Finlay was successful.
The home side’s final try came tight on fulltime, reserve prop Ashley Ulutupu grabbing a five-pointer to finish the match on a high and pick up a bonus point.
Tasman head coach Mel Bosman said, “there was much more self-belief out there … the message we gave them today was not to be afraid of the unstructured play and to have a crack, and they did, so I am really proud of them.
“They are definitely making progress … they are in a better head space this week.”
She singled out fullback Bethan Manners, flanker and co-captain Tamara Silcock and young prop Alisi Seigafo for special mention, plus Finlay and lock Gina Healey, who broke her nose in the warm-up but played through.
Mel said two heavy opening defeats had been a bitter pill for some of the squad members to swallow but they had handled it well.
“Big defeats like that first up can be hugely soul-destroying for young players but as coaches we have tried to put things in perspective … as to what that actually looks like in the bigger picture.
It’s a new team, it’s a new structure … 88 points against us last week is only one moment in time and we have many more moments ahead of us.”
Next up for the Mako women is a game against Hawke’s Bay in Motueka next weekend.
We are looking forward to that game,” said Mel.
“We are definitely going to build on this one … there is only one way for us and that is to keep moving forward slowly but surely.”