Planet Rugby

Auckland hang on for victory

28th September 2012 10:36

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Bundee Aki

Steelers: Held tryless in the wet

Auckland survived a last-ditch effort from Counties Manuaku in extra time to win a hard-faught ITM crossover clash 22-18.

Both sides threw everything at each other in a brutal encounter played in the wet, but the home side's set-piece and defence proved to be the difference as they held the Steelers tryless for the first time this season.

Counties got off to a great start and posted first points through the boot pivot Baden Kerr as he ensured Counties Manuaku would play from in front.

Auckland replied immediately after though as they found themselves in a great attacking position. The hosts continued to bustle their way towards the line and loose forward Sean Polwart scored the opening try. Gareth Anscombe added the extras.

Polwart would later be guilty of conceding the penalty allowing Kerr to close the gap with a long-range attempt after 12 minutes. It was evident Counties looked to plug the hosts deep within their half as the young playmaker Kerr kicked two penalty goals minutes within of each other.

There were further penalties to Kerr and Anscombe but it was Auckland who held the slender one-point (16-15_ lead going into the half-time sheds.

The Steelers suffered an early setback in the second half when they were reduced to 14 men after veteran hooker Mahonri Schwalger was sent to the sin-bin for repeated infringements.

Counties showed great character in defence though as they restricted the Auckland attack with Anscombe's penalty the only points to show for their one man advantage.

It was then the turn of the men in blue and white hoops to defend as the visitors were in prime position to apply some pressure on Auckland's defensive line. However the hosts were up to the task, forcing critical turnovers to clear their line.

Counties were still in it and looked to snatch victory as the clock ticked past 80 minutes, but Auckland held on for a vital win.

The defeat still sees Counties Manukau stay on top of the Championship standings but they will look to rebound when the host Waikato in Pukekohe next Saturday.

The scorers:

For Auckland:
Try: Polwart
Con: Anscombe
Pens: Anscombe 5

For Counties Manuaku:
Pens: Kerr 6

Auckland: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Dave Thomas, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Joe Edwards, 7 Sean Polwart, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Andrew van der Heijeden, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Angus Ta'avau.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sean Brookman, 19 Daniel Braid, 20 Scott Patterson, 21 Simon Hickey, 22 Lolagi Visinia.

Counties Manuaku: 15 Tim Nanai-Willliams, 14 Tony Pulu, 13 Rey Lee Lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 August Pulu; 8 Adam Cathcart, 7 DJ Forbes (c), 6 Maama Vaipulu, 5 Daniel Adongo, 4 Jimmy Tupou, 3 Matt Talaese, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: Suliasi Taufalele, Maka Tatafu, Jamie Chipman, Sikeli Nabou, David Bason, Ray Laulala, Tyrone Lefau

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