Counties Manukau bounce back for win

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Sunday, September 17, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The Samoan international and Chiefs utility scored twice and contributed to other tries for his side as they bounced back from their Ranfurly Shield-challenge mauling by Canterbury on Wednesday.
With hard-working loose forwards Sam Henwood, Johnathan Kawau and Fotu Lokotua, and lock Jimmy Tupou getting among the Hawke's Bay forwards, and capitalising on the visitors' errors, the platform was created. That was borne out in the second half as they put the issue well out of Hawke's Bay's reach.

Both sides struggled to get their momentum initially and the first half was punctuated by inaccuracies in handling and decision-making.

But a turnover when Hawke's Bay were looking to make ground on their flank when a pass between wing Mason Emerson and centre Jonah Lowe was intercepted by Counties Manukau wing Nigel Ah Wong broke the deadlock. No.8 Sam Henwood was on hand in support to carry play into Hawke's Bay's 22m area where lock Ronald Raaymakers took the ball to set up a ruck.

And so close to the line halfback Augustine Pulu made the most of it when running wide and then feeding inside where Nanai-Williams was on hand to score.

But anything Counties Manukau could do Hawke's Bay were just as capable of matching on the back of a midfield incision by centre Jonah Lowe. Hooker Ash Dixon supported him and with the ruck created just out from the goal-line, Hawke's Bay worked their pick and goes and it was Dixon who claimed the try.

Having gone to half-time lebel at 7-7, Hawke's Bay first five-eighths Tiaan Falcon attempted to run out of his 22m area only to be caught. A penalty was awarded at the ruck which Pulu took quickly and after centre Sam Furniss tried to get over, the maul saw flanker Fotu Lokotui power his way over the line to score.

Nanai-Williams proved a handful for Hawke's Bay and when he stepped his way through the defence it helped Counties Manukau towards the goal-line again in the 51st minute. From a scrum awarded to the home team, Pulu pulled the defence to the right and then from the ruck the ball emerged for Nanai-Williams, at first receiver, drew the defence before handing on to flanker Johnathan Kawau to score.

Hawke's Bay turned over a lineout in the 59th minute and first five-eighths Baden Kerr broke the line and then turned the ball inside to Pulu. He ran fast on the angle before finding Nanai-Williams perfectly placed to score his second try.

Big replacement prop Kalolo Tuiloma added lustre to the effort when scoring the side's fifth try with five minutes remaining.

As the game wound down, Hawke's Bay gained a late consolation when replacement wing Pasqualle Dunn got over for the try.

It wasn't the flashiest victory, but proved a welcome relief for a Counties Manukau side looking to avoid relegation prospects.

Scorers: Counties Manukau 33 (Tim Nanai-Williams 2, Fotu Lokotua, Johnathan Kawau, Kalolo Tuiloma tries; Baden Kerr 3 con; Luteru Laulala con) Hawke's Bay 14 ( Ash Dixon, Pasqualle Dunn tries; Ihaia West 2 con) HT: 7-7