In a dramatic finale, Counties Manukau held on for their first win over North Harbour in twelve years, winning 24-23 in Pukekhoe.
In a dramatic finale, Counties Manukau held on for their first win over North Harbour in twelve years, winning 24-23 in Pukekhoe on Sunday.
North Harbour fly-half Mike Harris' conversion to win the game hit the upright after wing Nafi Tuitavake had scored with a minute remaining!
Significantly, the result moves Counties into seventh place in the table on 29 points, one more than Wellington with three rounds of the regular season to go.
Counties led 14-10 at half-time thanks a fabulous try from centre Tana Umaga, who ghosted through the Harbour defence for the opening score of the match in the 9th minute.
Counties full-back Tim Nanai-Williams kicked the first of his two conversions before scoring and converting his own try as Counties dominated the first half.
Harbour were still in the game however after Harris kicked a penalty and prop Ben Afeaki finished off twelve phases of play to score.
North Harbour found something extra in the second half to take the lead through a try by scrum-half Chris Smylie and a Harris penalty.
But Nanai-Williams scored his second try, converted by Dean Cummings who added to his earlier penalty to get his side in front again.
North Harbour set up a grandstand finish in the dying minutes when a well-weighted Harris grubber piercing the Counties defence for winger Nafi Tuitavake to chase down and score in the corner and take the score to 24-23.
However Harbour were left heartbroken as Harris missed the conversion, his first failed attempt of the day.
For Counties Manukau:
Tries: Umaga, Nanai-Williams 2
Cons: Nanai-Williams 2, Cummins
For North Harbour:
Tries: Afeaki, Smylie, Tuitavake
Pens: Harris 2
Counties Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai Williams, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Tana Umaga, 11.David Raikuna, 10 Dean Cummins, 9 Samisoni Fisilau, 8 Viliami Fihaki, 7 Mark Selwyn, 6 Ronald Raaymakers, 5 Jamie Chipman, 4 Taiasina Tuifua, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Grant Henson, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Ilaisa Maasi, 17 Graham Dewes, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Pepa Koloamatangi, 20 August Pulu, 21 Rey Lee-Lo, 22 Seremaia Tagicakibau.
North Harbour: 15 Jack McPhee, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Jack Tarrant, 12 Luke McAlister, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Michael Harris, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Mathew Luamanu, 7 Tom Chamberlain, 6 Richard Mayhew, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 James Parsons, 1 Michael Reid (C).
Replacements:16 Manu Leiataua, 17 James Afoa, 18 William Whetton, 19 Scott Uren, 20 Grayson Hart, 21 Ben Botica, 22 Brendon Watt.
Referee: Jonathon White