Counties-Manukau opened their ITM Cup account with a fine 29-13 win over Otago after outscoring the southerners four tries to one.
Counties-Manukau opened their ITM Cup account with a surprise 29-13 win over Otago after outscoring the southerners four tries to one at Pukekohe on Saturday.
Former All Black captain Tana Umaga provided the nous and direction in the back-line, who ran in three tries in 12 minutes of the match to set up victory for Counties-Manukau.
A 61-minute appearance from the Test veteran would normally be the talk of the town but the blistering performance of the Steelers' young flyers will have made future opposition sit up and take notice.
It was by no means a complete performance by the Steelers as ill-discipline meant they played 20 minutes with 14 men. That in itself meant their four tries to one man-handling of Otago was all the more remarkable.
Counties had finished bottom last year and Otago tenth, so both teams had much to prove.
It was 3-all after an even first quarter in which neither side gained the ascendancy. Counties broke the deadlock after 25 minutes Ahsee Tuala stormed over after some neat offloading at pace by fellow wing Sherwin Stowers and centre Siale Piatau.
Moments later Piatau finished off a sweeping attack before full-back Tim Nanai-Williams showed his pace with a fine score soon before half-time.
Otago pivot Glenn Dickson landed penalties at the start and finish of the half but that was their only points to show before the break as Counties led 22-6 at half-time.
The result was sealed when Tuala bagged his second try midway through the second half, a 95m intercept as Otago raided the Steelers' line but failed to cross.
Otago managed a consolation score three minutes from the end, when full-back Chris Small found the try-line, but it was too little and much too late.
Tries: Tuala, 2, Piutau, Nanai-Williams
Cons: Cummins 3
Pens: Dickson 2
Counties Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai Williams, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Tana Umaga, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Dean Cummins, 9 August Pulu; 8 Viliame Fihaki, 7 Pepa Koloamatangi, 6 Fritz Lee, 5 Jamie Chipman, 4 Taiasina Tuifua, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Grant Henson, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Mark Price, 17 Graham Dewes, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Jamie Gilbert-Clarke, 20 Samisoni Fisilau, 21 Baden Kerr, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Otago: 15 Chris Small, 14 Ryan Shortland, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Josh Tatupu, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Glenn Dickson, 9 Sean Romans; 8 Paul Grant, 7 Alando Soakai (c), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Seko Kalou, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Sam Hibberd, 2 Peter Mirrielees, 1 Kees Meeuws.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Blair Young, 18 Hoani Matenga, 19 Eben Joubert, 20 Johnny Legg, 21 Andrew Parata, 22 Joe Hill.