Counties Manukau bask in Southland's sun

Getty Images

Saturday, September 8, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Passing and handling issues cost Southland who came up against a visiting side who, through the middle stages, showed a capacity to make full use of Southland's mistakes anywhere on the field.
Southland, who managed a four-try bonus point, made a confident start playing into an easterly breeze and were up 14-0 22 minutes into the game.

In the eighth minute they made the most of a break by centre Matt Johnson, built on by halfback Jay Renton in support. From a ruck on the line No.8 Bill Fukofuka drove over.

Then in the 22nd minute from a scrum penalty five metres out from the line. A quick tap was taken which allowed the Southland pack to build their pick-and-go game and it was tighthead prop Morgan Mitchell who go the ball over the line for the try.

But from a position of advantage, Southland failed to build on their start when first five-eighths James Wilson had a clearing kick from the restart charged down. In the following play Counties Manukau won a penalty and kicked to the corner. From the lineout flanker Fotu Lokotui got over the line in a rolling maul.

Southland got back into Counties Manukau's 22m area but turned the ball over in a lineout and when centre Sam Furniss made a break on the outside, the ball was knocked down in the tackle by Southland. It rebounded off Furniss' knee and fullback Luteru Laulala was able to run through to pick up the ball and score.

Two minutes later Counties Manukau were back in again following a break by second five-eighths Cardiff Vaega. When wing Tevita Nabura was able to kick ahead, the ball sat up perfectly for halfback Te Aihe Toma to score. In the space of six minutes Counties Manukau had posted 19 points.

In the second half Southland paid the cost for another failed lineout when Counties Manukau secured the ball and moved it wide with first five-eighths Latiume Fosita chipping a kick to the corner where Nabura claimed the ball and fed it inside where fellow wing Nigel Ah Wong scored.

That was followed moments later by a demonstration of classy footwork from the exciting replacement Etene Nanai-Seturo which opened up space on a cluttered blindside which saw hooker Joe Royal score.

After the pack were held up over the line they had Ah Wong join the line from the blindside wing at pace to give Vaega the easiest of tries.

Southland did get some return when Lewis Ormond picked off an intercept in the 65th minute to score the side's third try and then, after no reference was made to the TMO after Fukofuka looked to have scored a second try, then a check revealed replacement hooker Flynn Thomas hadn't quite ground the ball, they finally got their bonus point try when replacement halfback Nico Costa scored.

Duane Monkely medal points: Cardiff Vaega 3, James Wilson 2, Matt Vaai 1.

Scorers: Southland 26 (Bill Fukofuka, Morgan Mitchell, Lewis Ormond, Nico Costa tries; James Wilson 3 con) Counties Manukau 43 (Fotu Lokotui, Luteru Laulala, Te Aihe Toma, Nigel Ah Wong, Joe Royal, Cardiff Vaega tries; Lautiume Fosita 4 con; Laulala con, pen). HT: 14-19