The PIC Steelers season rolls on after an important win 29-24 over Manawatu in Palmerston North.
It was a tough win that saw fine tries, tough defence and red and yellow cards a feature of the match.
Tim Nanai-Williams was unfortunately sin-binned for a deliberate knock down when attempting to intercept what looked like a definite try-scoring opportunity for the home side.
Manawatu kicked for touch and from the lineout prop, Michael Ala'alatoa drove over to score.
First-five, Otere Black, kicked the conversion and Manawatu led 7-0 after 9 minutes.
The Steelers looked to strike back almost immediately when Manawatu infringed at the kick-off but Stephen Donald's penalty attempt was astray.
However, "Beaver" made amends a minute later with his second attempt and with 13 minutes played the deficit was only four points in favour of the home side.
Manawatu kicked a penalty of their own four minutes later, then as Nanai-Williams returned to the field it was Manawatu openside, Antonio Kiri Kiri's turn to sit in the naughty chair after he deliberately infringed as the Steelers were driving for the line.
This time it was the Steelers making the most of the one man advantage and from a good line-out drive and quick recycled possession, Ronald Raymakers, crossed in the corner.
The Steelers had their second try of the night when in the 25th minute halfback, Augustine Pulu, fed the ball to the blindside after the Steelers had turned over possession after a speculative Manawatu pass. Pulu delivered a clever pass to his blindside, which was then passed onto Donald who was over for a deserved try in his 240th first-class match.
Donald nailed the difficult conversion and the Steelers had the lead for the first time in the game.
Counties Manukau 15 - Manawatu 10 with 15 minutes left to play in the first half.
The Steelers lead was short lived thanks to a dazzling piece of play by the Manawatu backs who from deep in their own half showed speed and skill with the ball in hand and with a fine grubbed kick the ball eventually finding the hands of wing, Newton Tudreu, who finished of a try that bought the bucket-heads to their feet.
Black with the conversion. Manawatu ahead 17-15.
With time almost up in the half the Steelers had one last crack at the line. Off the back of some quick ruck ball, Donald steered his midfield perfectly. A deft pass to Nigel Ah Wong put him in space before he offloaded to Orbyn Leger who scored as the hooter sounded.
Donald converted and the Steelers ahead 22-17 at halftime.
The second stanza looked to have begun well for the Steelers as they dominated territory. Unfortunately they failed to turn this into points.
With Manawatu bold on attack they spread the ball from under their posts to the speedy Tudreu and with plenty of players in support it was a case of a couple of well-times passes and Ambrose Curtis was over.
Again, Black, added the extras. 24-22 to Manawatu.
Play then moved up and down the field with a combination of good defence and dropped passes halting any scoring. The Steelers forwards then took over and once they had worked their way into the Turbos '22 they owned possession until the backs demanded the ball. The outsides doing their forwards proud putting, Nigel Ah Wong over the line for the Steelers forth try of the evening.
Immediately the Steelers were back on defence and showed great character keeping the home side at bay. Sadly in the 76th minute Pulu was sent off for a careless (but by no means vindictive) high tackle.
The Steelers holding on for a tough and important 24-29 win.
Tries: M. Ala'alatoa, N. Tudreu, A. Curtis
Cons: O. Black 3
Pens: O. Black
Counties Manakau 29
Tries: R. Raymakers, S. Donald, O. Leger, N. Ah Wong
Cons: S. Donald 3
Pens: S. Donald
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