Sunday, September 24, 2017
In front of a sizable Tauranga crowd the Bay of Plenty Steamers were unable to close out the win over Counties Manukau concluding the match in a 31 all draw.
The Bay of Plenty Steamers made their intentions known early in the first half. Unable to finish off a superb break from centurion Culum Retallick, Richard Judd made amends for dropping the ball and charged down Baden Kerr’s clearing kick to set up prop Solomona Sakalia to flop on the ball over the try line.
Twenty minutes later Mike Delany burst through the Counties Manukau defence to setup Terrence Hepetema for the try.
Counties Manukau managed to bounce back first through a short-range try to Fotu Lokotui to keep them in the match and then to tie up the match through Augustine Pulu.
A late Steamers penalty gave saw the Steamers take a 17-14 lead at the break.
Returning from the break Counties Manukau scored two unanswered tries, firs with Albert Nikoro then Nigel Ah Wong crossing the line.
Counties Manukau’s Tevita Nabura was penalised for un-sportsman like behaviour allowing the Steamers to attack again this time through Lalakai Foketi. Foketi pulled out some impressive footwork to level the scores.
The Steamers were hot on attack again when referee Mike Lash was forced to call off play when Pulu bizarrely opted to rip the pad off the goalpost on defence.
The match was restarted by a scrum which Bay of Plenty dominated and No 8 Jesse Parete crossed for the try.
With the match on the line Nanai-Williams led a charge down the field that resulted in a try to replacement halfback Liam Daniella, setting up the pulsating finish.
After a Bay of Plenty fight back, Counties Manukau countered as they leveled the scores in the 75th minute to set up a helter-skelter finish.
Veteran first five-eighth Mike Delany pushed a 40m penalty wide of posts in the 78th minute. Delany then cramped up as he attempted a dropped goal two minutes into extra time.
Counties Manukau swung back onto attack, but a forward pass was ruled concluding the match at the relief of the spectators.
Bay of Plenty 31 (Solomona Sakalia, Terrence Hepetema, Lalakai Foketi, Jesse Parete tries; Mike Delany 3 con, pen) Counties Manuaku 31 (Fotu Lokotui, Augustine Pulu, Albert Nikoro, Nigel Ah Wong, Liam Daniella tries; Baden Kerr 3 con) HT: 17-14