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First-up win for Bay of Plenty

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Sunday, July 17, 2011    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The form guide suggested BOP, a premiership side in 2011, should have been too good for championship-dwelling Counties Manukau and it proved to be, even if there was little to separate two ring-rusty sides.

BOP outscored their opponents two tries to one, crossing through hooker Daniel Perrin and fullback Toby Arnold either side of halftime while powerful second five-eighth Niva Ta'auso was Counties Manukau's only try-scorer.

It was a victory based on superior possession and territory, with the home side's electric backline threatening from long distance on a few occasions without the right finishing poise to make it count.

The scoring was opened after the 10-minute mark as the teams traded penalties through opposing No.10s Daniel Waenga and James Semple.

BOP were having it all their own way and finally turned field position into five points through hooker Daniel Perrin.

Opting not to take a penalty shot from a handy angle, Perrin fed to a five-metre lineout and doubled around behind a rollicking maul that eventually saw him drop down over the line behind his advancing troops for a 10-3 advantage.

Counties Manukau hardly saw their opposing team's tryline – giving away 62 percent of territory through 11 turnovers – but were rewarded for patience right on halftime to draw within three at the break.

The home side's backs had been threatened to cut loose all day and finally did when a jinking Semple run found second five-eighths Niva Ta'auso flying on a great angle to score next to the posts.

And when Semple banged over another fine effort from inside the halfway line in the 44th minute, it was all locked up at 13-all.

A helter-skelter period of 10 minutes ensued and it was BOP who grabbed a 20-13 lead back through fullback Toby Arnold.

A Waenga kick was initially fielded inside Counties Manukau's half but a hospital pass saw replacement halfback Taniela Moa tackle, get to his feet, throw a huge pass wide to the left and Arnold had far too much pace to the corner for home side captain Jamie Chipman's desperate cover.

The likes of Ta'auso and NZ Sevens star Sherwin Stowers did their best to claw the deficit back in the final quarter but a multitude of errors meant the local fans were sent home disappointed.

There is little time for Counties Manukau to lick their wounds as they shape up at home again against Manawatu on Wednesday night, while BOP are given a bit more respite as they make the short trip back to Mt Maunganui to host North Harbour on Saturday night.

Bay of Plenty 20
Tries: Perrin, Arnold
Cons: Waenga 2
Pens: Waenga 2

Counties-Manukau 13
Try: Ta'auso
Con: Semple
Pens: Semple

HT: 13-10