Counties Manukau have secured promotion to the ITM Cup Premiership after beating Otago 41-16 in the Championship final.
Counties Manukau have secured promotion to the ITM Cup Premiership after beating Otago 41-16 in the Championship final on Friday.
After finishing the regular-season top of the standings, the Steelers outscored Otago five tries to one to claim their first provincial title since 1993.
Counties led 20-13 at half-time in Pukekohe courtesy of tries to August Pulu and Mark Selwyn, before running away with three late tries through Tim Nanai-Williams, David Bason and another by Pulu.
Otago threatened an upset when Adam Thomson scored their only try mid-way through the first half, but were unable to consistently threaten the hosts who ran away with the win.
Tries: Pulu 2, Selwyn, Nanai-Williams, Bason
Con: Kerr 4, Stowers
Pen: Kerr 2
Pen: Dickson 3
Counties: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Tony Pulu, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 August Pulu, 8 Jimmy Tupou, 7 DJ Forbes, 6 Mark Selwyn, 5 Daniel Adongo, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Matt Talaese, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Suliasi Taufalele, 17 Maka Tatafu, 18 Sikeli Nabou, 19 Maama Vaipulu, 20 David Bason, 21 Kane Hancy, 22 Tyrone Lefau.
Otago: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Marshall Suckling, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Glenn Dickson, 11 Buxton Popoali'i, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Lee Allan, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Rob Verbakel, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tama Tuirirangi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Adam Hill, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Peter Breen, 21 Jayden Spence, 22 Tony Enso.
Referee: Keith Brown