Counties-Manukau kept their hands on the Ranfurly Shield after seeing off Otago 29-25 at ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe on Saturday.
Counties-Manukau kept their hands on the Ranfurly Shield after beating Otago 29-25 at ECOLight Stadium.
Saturday's win sees the Steelers continue their unbeaten start to the 2014 season after drawing with Taranaki last Thursday in New Plymouth.
But it wasn't a simple victory as Otago fought until the bitter end, ultimately coming up short as the home side held on to the coveted Log o' Wood.
A ninth minute try from hooker Liam Coltman had put Otago 0-7 up on nine minutes before Lee Allan replied for Counties to level the scores.
Fly-half Hayden Parker then made it 7-10 to the visitors but it would be the Steelers who went in at the break in front as Ronald Raaymakers crashed over. Ahsee Tuala again added the conversion.
At 14-10 the next score was always going to be crucial and it went the way of Counties when the impressive Jordan Taufua was driven over for a converted score on 50 minutes that made it 21-10.
Parker did hit back with three points off the kicking tee but when Counties replacement Michael Stanley crossed on 67 minutes to make it 26-13, Otago looked dead and buried.
However, the Championship side went down fighting as late tries from Aki Seiuli and Fa'asiu Fuatai brought the margin down to four points as Pukekohe celebrated.
Tries: Allan, Raaymakers, Taufua, Stanley
Con: Tuala 3
Tries: Coltman, Seiuli, Fuatai
Con: Parker 2
Pen: Parker 2
Counties Manukau: 15 Sherwin Stowers, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Ahsee Tuala, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Onosa'i Auva'a, 6 Dan Hyatt, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Jarrod Firth, 2 Suliasi Taufalele, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Sione Anga'aelangi, 17 Sean Bagshaw, 18 Viliami Rarasea, 19 Maama Vaipulu, 20 Kane Hancy, 21 Baden KerrAhsee Tuala, 22 Tim Nanai-Williams.
Otago: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Jayden Spence, 13 Michael Collins, 12 Tei Walden, 11 Fa'asiu Fuatai, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Josh Renton, 8 Charlie O'Connell (c), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Lee Allan, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Joe Latta, 3 Hisa Sasagi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Sam Anderson-Heather, 17 Donald Brighouse, 18 Jackson Hemopo, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Nick Ealey, 21 Peter Breen, 22 Marshall Suckling.
Referee: Nick Briant