Steamers hold off tenacious Stags

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Sunday, October 7, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

The visitors, winless since August 23, dominated the early exchanges off the back of some tigerish loose forward play by No 7 Mitch Karpik.


The first try went to wing Bailey Simonsson from an 8-9-14 scrum play. The Steamers had the better of the scrum battle, but the next try, to hooker Tom Crozier, was from a drive off a lineout, just a minute after the same player had been held up over the line.

Wing Lewis Ormond put the Stags on the scoreboard thanks to a superb offload by his flanker Tony Lamborn and came after the Stags had racked up 11 phases.

Karpik gave the last pass to wing Fa’asiu Fuatai, who crossed in the corner after a lineout move. At 19-5 to the Steamers, hope looked forlorn for the home side.

But the Stags forwards were still industrious and, in lock Manaake Selby-Rickit and tighthead prop Morgan Mitchell, they had two of the game’s outstanding figures. Mitchell scored between the uprights not long before the half to cut the deficit to seven.

Emerging from the sheds in grimly determined fashion, the Stags set about the climb back in seeking to break an 18-match, 729-day losing streak.

Isaac Te Tamaki gave them real hope with a sizzling 50m solo try, beating Chase Tiatia with a feint and shimmy after the initial thrust from Ray Nu’u.

The Stags’ defence was derailing the Steamers’ offence where errors were creeping in. The visitors lost all fluency for large tracts.

The boot of James Wilson had given the Stags a 22-19 lead, but Steamers lock Kane Leaupepe finished strongly to go between the sticks. It was back to a 26-22 advantage, Bay of Plenty.
Ben Fotheringham’s sinbinning with three minutes to play for collapsing a maul appeared to have put the final nail in the Stags’ coffin. But the Steamers failed to clear from a scrum and then had to endure three agonising minutes after the siren as they desperately sought to shut down the withering home finish.

The Stags secured just one bonus point, when they might have felt they deserved more. The Steamers, while pleased with the win, will be deflated that they are just out of Championship semifinal qualification range,

Southland has a very short turnaround, hosting Auckland on Wednesday night, while Bay of Plenty will host Northland in Tauranga next Saturday afternoon.

Bay of Plenty 26 (Bailey Simonsson, Tom Crozier, Fa’asiu Fuatai, Kane Leaupepe tries; Kaleb Trask 3 con) Southland 22 (Lewis Ormond, Morgan Mitchell, Isaac Te Tamaki tries; James Wilson 2 con, pen) HT: 19-12 Bay of Plenty