Round one of the Mitre 10 Cup saw the PIC Steelers relinquish the Dan Bryant Memorial Trophy to Auckland at Eden Park, 23-19.
The first half saw the PIC Steelers dominate the opening stages of the game. With the forwards short passing and quick ruck game working well Auckland were back peddling at pace. It wasn't long before prop Kololo Tuiloma broke from a ruck near the line and was over for the opening try.
Latiume Fosita converted and after four minutes the Steelers were ahead 7-0.
However Auckland were not out of the game for long when wing Salesi Rayasi scored a fine try in the corner after following a deft rubber kick.
The Steelers pack decided to take back control of the match and again found holes in the Auckland defence close to the ruck.
The forwards then dominated the set piece. A scrum penalty led to a lineout near the Auckland line and with the help of some of their backs they were able to drive across and score. Number 8, Sam Henwood with the try.
Latiume Fosita landed an excellent conversion and the Steelers were ahead 14-5 after 18 minutes.
Auckland responded with a try to flanker, Blake Gibson. The Auckland captain barging over after Auckland stretched the Steelers defence to its limit.
First-five, Harry Plummer added the conversion and two minutes later kicked his first penalty of the afternoon, giving the home side a 15-14 lead.
Auckland lead was extended when wing, Melani Nani scored a fortuitous try from some scrappy lineout ball.
Auckland ahead at halftime 20-14.
The second stanza began with the Steelers defending superbly after the home side threw everything at them. The hard work paid off and was rewarded when defence became attack. Again the Steelers forwards went to work and from a well taken lineout the forwards maintained possession until prop, Howard Sililioto crashed overt to score.
Fosita missed the conversion meaning Auckland were still ahead, 20-19.
Plummer Auckland's lead by a further three points when the Steelers scrum was penalised in the 58th minute.
The remainder of the game saw Auckland do enough to stay ahead and the Steelers give it everything but to no avail.
Final score Auckland 23-19.
The PIC Steelers next match is against Bay Of Plenty this Thursday at Navigation Homes Stadium in Pukekohe. Kick off is at 7.35pm.
Tries: K Tuiloma, S Henwood, H Sililioto
Cons: Fosita (2)
Tries S Raysai, B Gibson, M Nanai
Cons: H Plummer
Pens: H Plummer (2)
HT: 20-14 Auckland
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