Hawke's Bay claimed their first win of the ITM Cup season after a 27-point haul from Daniel Waenga saw them defeat Counties 37-30.
Hawke's Bay sealed their first win of the ITM Cup season after a 27-point haul from Daniel Waenga saw them defeat Counties 37-30 on Friday.
The fly-half scored the match-winning try with ten minutes remaining at McLean Park in Napier as the hosts clawed their way back from 6-20 down.
First-half tries from Steelers full-back Tim Nanai-Williams and scrum-half August Pulu had put the visitors in a strong position, but Magpies hooker Hika Elliot's score just before the interval turned the tide in Napier as the momentum changed.
It was a thrill-a-minute contest as Counties looked to prove a point to their premier division opponents while Hawke's Bay were desperately hunting their debut win in 2012's competition.
Yet despite the Steelers crossing through wing Sherwin Stowers for a score that looked to have stemmed the tide, back came Hawke's Bay with interest. First, Waenga knocked over a penalty and then good vision from Elliot saw him find Tua Saseve, who made it 30 points apiece.
With time ticking on it looked like the Magpies' hopes of victory were going to be denied when JWC U20 fly-half Ihaia West was deemed to have had one foot in touch before scoring. But the hosts weren't to be denied as Waenga capitalised on a loose ball before converting the extras for a result that lifts his side off the bottom and into fifth position.
For Hawke's Bay:
Tries: Elliot, Saseve, Waenga
Con: Waenga 2
Pen: Waenga 6
Tries: Nanai-Williams, Pulu, Stowers
Con: Kerr 3
Pen: Kerr 3
Hawke's Bay: 15 Nick McLennan, 14 Tino Nemani, 13 Tua Saseve, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Daniel Waenga, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Mike Coman (capt), 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Adam Bradey, 5 Johan Schoonbee, 4 Ross Kennedy, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Adrian Barone.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Kieran Coll, 19 Tivaini Fomai, 20 Isaac Paewai, 21 Ihaia West, 22 Gillies Kaka.
Counties Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 August Pulu, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 DJ Forbes (c), 6 Adam Cathcart, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Matt Talaese, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Suliasi Taufalele, 17 Maka Tatafu, 18 Daniel Adongo, 19 Mark Selwyn, 20 David Bason, 21 Ray Laulala, 22 Tony Pulu.
Referee: Richard Kelly