Fri, 12 Aug 2016
What a great occasion it was at ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe tonight, with the All Blacks and Northland in town for the Game of Three Halves against the Counties Manukau Steelers.
The Grandstand was a sell out and the South Auckland Motors Embankment was packed.
The first match was between Counties Manukau and Northland. They played under the new rules which will be implemented in the Mitre 10 Cup. It took 14 minutes for the first points to be scored and they came in the way of Piers Francis’ boot. The Steelers led 3-0 before flanker Fotu Lokotui scored the first try of the game. Francis converted the try to extend their lead to 10-0.
Northland struck back with a try of their own to close the gap to 10-5. It didn’t take long for the Steelers to bounce back though, with Francis scoring a try and converting it. Cardiff Vaega sealed the deal in the last few minutes to give the Counties Manukau Steelers a 24-5 victory.
Steelers coach Darryl Suasua said they did a lot of preparation for the Northland game, so it was good to get the result.
“With the Northland game we did a lot of work around the tackle ball. Obviously we have guys who have come back from Super Rugby like Jimmy Tupou and Piers Francis who haven’t played under the new rules before. We focused hard on this game so they could get a taste of what’s to come in the Mitre 10 Cup.”
The second match in the Game of Three Halves saw the All Blacks get the win 73-0 over a spirited Northland side.
It was then time for the Steelers to revert back to the old rules and take on the World Champion All Blacks and it didn’t take long before the crowd got to their feet. Flanker Fotu Lokotui scored a try off some solid work from the forwards. Joe Reynolds kicked the conversion. This gave the Steelers a 7-0 lead over the All Blacks. Most fans in the crowd wanted the game to be called off then. The Steelers held onto their 7-0 lead for 15 minutes, before Israel Dagg scored and Lima Sopoaga kicked the conversion to draw level at 7-all.
Former Rosehill College student and All Blacks captain Kieran Read scored shortly after to give his side the lead. After that Dagg scored his second try of the match, Waisake Naholo ran down the right wing to eventually score under the posts and lock Patrick Tuipulotu also scored. Sopoaga slotted all three conversions to give the All Blacks a 35-7 win. It was a brilliant performance from the Steelers. They stood up and played incredibly well against the best team in the world and they put on a great show for their fans.
Suasua said his side loved the whole occasion and they should be proud of how well they went.
“We knew the importance of playing the best team in the world and the boys talked before the game about how they wanted to show a bit of pride and steel and the certainly did that. We still have a lot of things we want to work on, but all in all it was a great night.”
The Counties Manukau Rugby Football Union would like to say a special thanks to Northland and the All Blacks for being part of the Game of Three Halves. Safe travels home and we would like to wish you both all the best for the Rugby Championship and Mitre 10 Cup respectively. We would also like to say thanks to all those who were at the game tonight. It was a special occasion and we thoroughly enjoyed having you all there to be a part of it.
Steelers 24 Northland 5
Northland 0 All Blacks 73
Steelers 7 All Blacks 35
The Steelers first game of the Mitre 10 Cup is against North Harbour at QBE Stadium in Albany at 7.35pm on Thursday 18 August.
Season Memberships for the Steelers’ Mitre 10 Cup home games are still available for purchase during office hours at the CMRFU Office at ECOLight Stadium or online at www.iticket.co.nz
A Season Membership will get you into our home games against Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Taranaki, Waikato and Canterbury. Season Memberships cost as little as $50 for Kids in the Grandstand and $100 for Adults.
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