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Watch: TMO howler helps Lions to first win over Mako in 12 years

By Sam Smith
Connor Garden-Bachop. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images and Sky Sports)

While Tasman and Wellington played out a thrilling contest to the death that boasted a number of exceptional tries, it’s a howler by television match official Corey Eggers that has everyone talking following Wednesday night’s NPC clash in Nelson.

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Ruben Love was at his dangerous best in the fullback jersey for the Lions while the likes of Alex Nankivell and new Crusaders Macca Springer once again proved key figures for the Mako, but it was TMO Eggers who perhaps made the most memorable act of the evening.

Tasman – who entered the game with a somewhat disappointing 2-4 record following back-to-back-to-back grand finals – initially looked to have opened the scoring with a nicely worked try down the right-hand flank but the final pass was ruled forwards by Eggers. Wellington struck back 13 minutes later with a well-worked score of their own to left wing Connor Garden-Bachop – but when the try was referred to Eggers, it looked like there was a clear hand in touch from Garden-Bachop.

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After three looks, however, Eggers ruled there was nothing wrong with the try, and Wellington were promptly awarded the five points.

The Sky Sports commentating team were perplexed with the call but former All Black Kane Hames was able to offer some insight.

“The TMO is sitting right next to me and I did have a chat to him,” Hames said. “He didn’t actually look at the left hand, he missed it. He’s just seen the replay again and he’s gutted. So there’s the explanation.”

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The Mako and the Lions traded blows throughout the remainder of the game with Love setting up a beautiful try for the visiting side with his quick stepping, while a brilliant offload from Fijian Drua utility forward Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta saw Tasman’s Noah Hotham touch down for the final score of the game.

While the Mako had a chance to win it at the death, it required them to run the ball out from the 22 and Wellington were ultimately awarded a penalty to secure the result, 25-19.

Although the NPC has taken somewhat of a backseat in recent weeks thanks to the ongoing Rugby Championship, fans’ interests were ignited by the fixture and they took to social media to express their incredulousness at Garden-Bachop’s try.

Both sides will again take the field this Sunday, with Tasman hosting Taranaki and Wellington hosting Otago.

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