Waikato piled on four second-half tries to secure a bonus-point 39-3 victory over Counties Manukau in Hamilton on Saturday.
Waikato piled on four second-half tries to secure a 39-3 bonus-point victory over Counties Manukau in Hamilton on Saturday.
The result breaks a two-match losing streak for the Mooloos, while Counties tasted only their second loss of the season.
After holding a slender 7-3 half-time advantage, Waikato simply shut their northern neighbours out after the break thanks to a dominant forwards effort. Trent Renata was a perfect five from five with the boot to collect a personal 12-point haul.
In a fairly evenly shared first half, Waikato hooker Aled de Malmache crossed for the first try of the match in the 15th minute to cancel out an early penalty by Counties full-back Tim Nanai Williams.
Renata's conversion was all that was added to the scoreboard in the first 40 minutes as Waikato struggled to finish off promising moves by spilling the ball at inopportune moments.
However, it was a totally different Waikato side the turned up for the second half.
Loose forwards Liam Messam, Jack Lam and Steven Setephano, backed by locks Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Toby Lynn, pounded the Counties pack into submission with some outstanding play.
With the generous possession delivered by their forwards, the back-line ran freely to help their side to 32 unanswered points from four tries, two penalties and three conversions.
Wing Tim Mikkelson grabbed the first try within two minutes of the start of the second half and two minutes later, full-back Sosene Anisi produced the try of the game.
Counties counterpart Ahsee Tuala ran into a mob of tacklers and Anesi was there to rip the ball away and race 80 metres upfield unchallenged for his five-pointer.
The Steelers -who hardly handled the ball in the last 20 minutes – caved in to allow further tries to Mikkelson and Renata's replacement Sam Christie.
Tries: De Malmanche, Mikkelson 2, Anesi, Christie
Cons: Renata 3, Sweeny
Pens: Renata 2
For Counties Manukau:
Pen: Nanai Williams
Waikato: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Tim Mikkelson, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Christian Leali'ifano,11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Trent Renata, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Steven Setephano, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 3 Nathan White (c), 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Hikairo Forbes, 18 Romana Graham/Chris Middleton, 19 Matt Vant Leven, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Frank Halai.
Counties-Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Reynold Lee-Lo, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 August Pulu, 8 Viliami Fihaki, 7 Mark Selwyn, 6 Fritz Lee, 5 Jamie Chipman (c), 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Grant Henson, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Mark Price, 17 Graham Dewes, 18 Waka Setitaia, 19 Sikeli Nabou, 20 Samisoni Fisilau, 21 Dean Cummins/James Semple, 22 Seremaia Tagicakibau.
Referee: Ben Skeen