Counties-Manukau bounced back from last week's defeat to Southland by recording a 35-14 win over Manawatu on Saturday.
Counties-Manukau responded after last week's defeat to Southland by recording a strong 35-14 win over Manawatu on Saturday.
The result was an improvement for the Turbos after their 77-8 hammering by Northland last Sunday and they were only 14-7 behind at the break this week.
But the net result was that Counties recorded a five-point success thanks to tries from Fritz Lee, Ahsee Tuala and Sherwin Stowers, a win that sees them bounce back from their Ranfurly Shield disappointment against Southland.
Manawatu had taken an early lead when Tim Nanai-Williams made a mess of collecting the ball to allow Casey Stone to finish off a set-piece move. Craig Clare's conversion made it 7-0.
Then the response came. Stowers was the catalyst with a break that put his side on the front foot. And from the recycled ball, Lee was able to cruise over without a hand laid on him. Baden Kerr made it 7-all.
Manawatu would have been encouraged to enjoy a decent spell of possession, but the strong defence from Counties left them with little to celebrate.
And all of that ball led to one thing unfortunately for the Turbos as the Steelers counter-attacked with Lee offloading to his back-row colleague Mark Selwyn, who ran over for five points. Five then became seven when Kerr knocked over the extra two that saw the half-time score at 14-7.
Lee was again in the thick of the action upon the turnaround as the Steelers played a more confined game, the number eight's turnover allowing Tuala to score with the lead now stretch to fourteen points.
Then came a moment of genius from Stowers, whose long-range score saw him beat five tacklers to leave Manawatu knowing their fate, if they didn't already.
It was then the icing on the cake when Nanai-Williams went over but Manawatu did grab some consolation with an Isaac Thompson converted try being the game's last score.
For Counties Manukau:
Tries: Lee, Selwyn, Tuala, Stowers, Nanai Williams
Con: Kerr 5
Tries: Stone, Thompson
Con: Clare, Thompson
Counties-Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Tana Umaga, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Samisoni Fisilau, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Pepa Kolomatangi, 6 Mark Selwyn, 5 Jamie Chipman (c), 4 Taiasina Tuifua, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Grant Henson, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Mark Price, 17 Graham Dewes, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Viliami Fihaki, 20 August Pulu, 21 Reynold Lee-Lo, 22 David Raikuna.
Manawatu: 15 Craig Clare, 14 Casey Stone, 13 Shannon Paku, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Lote Raikabula, 10 Tomasi Cama, 9 Karl Bryson, 8 Hamish Gosling, 7 Doug Tietjens, 6 Nick Crosswell (c), 5 Reece Robinson, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Rob Foreman,1 Grant Polson.
Replacements: 16 Sean O'Connor, 17 Karl Haitana, 18 Fraser Stone, 19 Mitchell Crosswell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Isaac Thompson, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.