Sun, 28 Aug 2016
The Counties Manukau Steelers set their home season off on a high note with an entertaining 10-try encounter in beating Bay of Plenty 39-34 at ECOLight Stadium.
After a slow start, trailing 11-15 at halftime, the Steelers stepped up to another gear to run in four straight tries to stretch to a 39-15 lead. However, they had to hang on as the visitors raced home with three tries in the final 12 minutes to close the margin.
The home team took some time to get into the game as the BOP pack produced some physical play. But gradually the Steelers gained parity upfront and their much vaunted ruck-and-run rugby ignited.
They took full advantage of a yellow card to Bay of Plenty winger Monty Ioane, for a deliberate knock-on, which earned a penalty try as well as 10 minutes in the bin.
The Steelers were a different team in the second half with big lock Viliame Rarasea robust in set play and in the loose, while No 8 Sootala Fa’aso’o enjoyed an outstanding and physical display.
In the backs, Piers Francis kicked superbly while the combination with Augustine Pulu was pivotal to their operation.
Centre Sam Vaka was more at home this week in the midfield, with some storming runs to set up at least two of the five tries.
Assistant coach Grant Henson said they were pretty happy with the win in the end, but it got a little too close for comfort.
“It was good to get the win, but we probably should have put the foot on the throat at the end. Bay of Plenty came back at us and made a real game of it in the end. But we got the five points, so we are happy with that.
“Our message at half time was to tidy up the breakdown and in the second spell that made a difference. We tidied up our cleaning system and that got us good go forward.
“It will be all about recovery now for the next couple of days, icing some of the bumps and bruises. We’ll get on the plane and hope to get one over Hawke’s Bay down there.”
Counties Manukau 39 (Viliame Rarasea, Jordan Taufua, Sherwin Stowers, Sione Molia, Penalty tries; Piers Francis 2 penalties, 4 conversions)
Bay of Plenty 34 (Monty Ioane 2, Hugh Blake, James O’Reilly, Regan Ware tries; Kelly Haimona 1 penalty, 1 conversion; Te Aihe Toma 2 conversions)
The Steelers next game is against Hawke’s Bay on Thursday 1 September at McLean Park in Napier, kick off 7:35pm.
Our next home game is a special one against Wellington on Friday 9 September at 7:45pm, where both sides will be celebrating the life of the great Jonah Lomu. Counties Manukau and Wellington will be playing for the Jonah Lomu Memorial Trophy, and the Steelers will be wearing special edition Jonah jerseys. It will be a great night to be a part of, so make sure you get your tickets.
Richard Spranger - Photo Credit
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