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Steelers break duck in Napier

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Sunday, September 2, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Trailing 10-7 at the break but playing some loose rugby, the Steelers tightened up, took their chances and captain and lock Matiaha Martin delivered the knockout blow with a 78th minute try. It was some end to their ‘Storm Week’ and followed three tight defeats.

The Magpies, hitherto unbeaten, will be disappointed they could not close the encounter out in sunny conditions before some great old Hawke’s Bay rugby men of the ilk of Blair Furlong, Neil Thimbleby and Tom Johnson.

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The children of Hawke’s Bay captain Ash Dixon brought the match ball out, in a nice Father’s Day touch, but Sean Bagshaw’s charge-down of Tiaan Falcon opened the action from kickoff.

Steelers wing Tevita Nabura bolted for a long-range opportunist try, slightly against the run of play, to open the scoring, but the riposte by player of the day Jonah Lowe was even more spectacular. The Hawke’s Bay flier latched onto a Stacey Ili grubber to toe the ball ahead, twice, before regathering for a startling solo try.

Magpies flanker Josh Kaifa, who ran with vigour, then bombed a try when grassing a Falcon chip. He made up for it, scoring off a lineout drive, the seventh try scored in such fashion by the 2018 Magpies.

The halftime coaches’ call for the Steelers was to hold onto the ball. While they turned over the ball from the kickoff, thereafter there was a lot more grit and discipline to the visitors’ efforts.

No 8 Dan Hyatt ploughed over from a superbly worked lineout move in which Nabura won the ball at No 2.

Then it was nip and tuck, Lowe scoring his second from an intercept, followed by Steelers speedster Toni Pulu sparking a try for the impressive hooker Joe Royal.

A try to replacement halfback Folau Fakatava, after several patient phases, edged Hawke’s Bay into the lead until the final flourish by Martin. Orbyn Leger had almost crossed earlier, but was denied by a trysaving tackle by Falcon.

Counties Manukau will welcome the six-day break before it must face Southland in Invercargill, while Hawke’s Bay hosts Bay of Plenty on Saturday in the unofficial ‘Battle of the Bay.’

Duane Monkley Medal points:
3: Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay)
2: Joe Royal (Counties Manukau)
1: Matiaha Martin (Counties Manukau)

Scorers
Counties Manukau 29
(Tevita Nabura, Dan Hyatt, Joe Royal, Matiaha Martin tries; Latiume Fosita 3 con, pen) Hawke’s Bay 25 (Jonah Lowe 2, Josh Kaifa, Folau Fakatava tries; Tiaan Falcon con, pen) HT: 10-7 Hawke’s Bay