Counties deny Tasman top spot

Date published: October 12 2014

Counties Manukau finished their season on a high with a well deserved 21-16 victory over Tasman in Blenheim on Sunday.

Counties Manukau finished their season on a high with a well deserved 21-16 victory over Tasman in Blenheim on Sunday.

The result was of greater significance to Tasman as it denied them the top spot on the table.

The Makos headed into the match knowing that they needed two points from this clash to move above Taranaki – who lost earlier to Canterbury – in the standings but they failed to achieve that goal.

The home side started the match brightly and were leading 9-0 by the 26th minute thanks two three penalties from Rohan Saifoloi but Counties reduced the deficit two minutes later when Pauliasi Manu scored the opening try after fine work from Bundee Aki in the build-up.

The visitors’ dual code international Sonny Bill Williams made an appearance off the replacements bench as early as the 30th minute, when he came on as a replacement for the injured Rey Lee-Lo but the All Black centre didn’t make the impact which was expected of him.

He spilled several balls in contact and while the Tasman defenders kept him in check Aki – who moved to outside centre when his more famous midfield partner came on -was thriving on his outside.

Tasman extended their lead after the break, when Robbie Malneek got over for their only try but Counties when Michael Stanley crossed over after receiving an well-timed offload from Aki.

Counties finished stornger and clinched the victory in style when Jordan Taufua rounded off a fine team effort in the 66th minute.

The result means Tasman will host Canterbury in Nelson in their semi-final on Saturday while Tarakani face Auckland in Palmerston North in the other play-off match.

The scorers:

For Tasman:
Try: Malneek
Con: Banks
Pens: Saifoloi 3

For Counties:
Tries: Manu, Taufua, Stanley
Cons: Stanley 2, Tuala

Tasman: 15 Robbie Malneek, 14 Mitchell Scott, 13 Mike Wells, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 James Lowe, 10 Rohan Saifoloi, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tevita Koloamatangi, 6 Vernon Fredricks, 5 Joe Wheeler (c), 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Jesse MacDonald, 1 Siua Halanukonuka.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Reuben Northover, 18 Alex Ainley, 19 Pete Samu, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Marty Banks, 22 Bryce Heem.

Counties: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Ahsee Tuala, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Dan Hyatt, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Jarrod Firth, 2 Suliasi Taufalele, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Sione Anga’aelangi, 17 Sean Bagshaw, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Sam Henwood, 20 Kane Hancy, 21 Mike Stanley, 22 Sonny Bill Williams.

Referee: Shane McDermott