Wed, 14 Sep 2016
For the second time in five days, the Counties Manukau Steelers have come up one-point shy of victory in their Mitre 10 Cup clash at ECOLight Stadium.
This time Taranaki claimed the win in a see-saw battle that saw the lead change four times in the final 13 minutes as the visitors ran out 30-29 victors.
The loss follows the 28-27 loss to Wellington last Friday.
Replacement first five Joe Reynolds had the agony of seeing his 30m penalty from in front slide by with time up on the clock which would have given the Steelers the much-needed win.
Ironically a few minutes earlier Reynolds has landed an outstanding 48m angled penalty to push the home side ahead before Taranaki first five Marty McKenzie goaled for the visitors to reclaim the advantage.
After a dull first half, the Steelers sprang into life with two tries in the first six minutes of the second spell to turn a 7-20 halftime deficit around. It took until the 68th minute when replacement Richard Judd scored after a superb run from skipper Jimmy Tupou and the resulting Reynolds conversion for the Steelers to hit the lead for the first time at 26-20.
A turnover from Counties Manukau led to a late converted try to Taranaki skipper Mitch Crosswell as the visitors regained the lead 26-27.
Reynolds then responded with his excellent long range penalty, matched by McKenzie before the final penalty kick was waved away.
The home side could not get their usual fluency in attack nor aggression on defence, with two dropped catches from high kicks resulting in both Taranaki’s first half tries.
The home side were on the wrong side of the penalty count again and had a controversial try ruled out late in the game.
They lost Piers Francis with a cut to his ear and the inspirational Tupou with a leg injury, both players they would sorely miss if they are not fit enough to line up against Auckland in just four days’ time.
Assistant coach Grant Henson said they had an improved second half, and the attitude was certainly better.
“We came out much better in that second spell and we were more accurate especially around the breakdown. We got ourselves on the front foot. We could have played with a bit more territory early in the second half, but we obviously did enough to get back and win. Unfortunately, it came down to a kick and the rugby gods aren’t smiling at the moment.
“We haven’t got too much time to think about it, which is a good thing sometimes. We have to start patching some guys up and we need to get to Auckland on Sunday and get our first ever win at Eden Park.”
Counties Manukau Steelers 29 (Sione Molia, Jordan Taufua, Sherwin Stowers, Richard Judd tries; Piers Francis con, Joe Reynolds 1 pen, 2 cons)
Taranaki 30 (Sean Wainui, Stephen Perofeta, Mitch Crosswell tries; Marty McKenzie 3 pen, 3 cons)
The quick turnaround continues for the Steelers. They take on Auckland at Eden Park this Sunday 18September at 2:35pm.
Our next home game at ECOLight Stadium is against Waikato on Friday 23 September at 7:35pm. Tickets for this match are available at www.iticket.co.nz OR at the CMRFU Office during office hours (Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5pm) OR at the Gate on Game Day. Tickets in the Grandstand cost $20 for Adults, $15 for Students and $10 for kids and Kids 13 & Under are FREE on the South Auckland Motors Embankment thanks to Pak ‘N’ Save Pukekohe.