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Counties Manukau bounces back

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Sportal.co.nz     02 Sep 2010     Getty Images

It wasn't the most riveting of games, possibly due to the wet conditions but also due to the indisciplines of the Tasman side which proved costly in the final outcome.

Fullback Tim Nanai Williams and the three-quarter line of Siale Piutau, Sherwin Stowers and Ahsee Tuala were dangerous, especially in the first half and by the time the game petered out in the second half they destruction they had wrought had put Counties Manukau safely in front.

Tasman were penalised several times for holding the ball at the breakdown while handling woes also contributed to their demise. After the seven penalty goals landed by Southland the week before it is a concern as they contemplate the remainder of the season. A last second attempted breakout from their own in-goal area typified their misfortune on the night as they cleared out only to drop the ball just as they entered Counties Manukau's half with the final whistle following.

After early scrum-setting problems Tasman had two early chances to score, the first through a Steve Alfeld penalty goal attempt and then a runaway effort from wing Blair Cook who was reeled in by wing Sherwin Stowers. His chance came courtesy of a superbly timed pass by second five-eighths Tana Umaga. He fed wing Ahsee Tuala into space and he took play to the Tasman goal-line.

From the ruck on the line, Counties Manukau first five-eighths James Semple lofted a league-style crossfield kick to his outside backs but it was Cook who took the ball and set sail for the line but just inside the home team's 22m he was downed by the flying Stowers.

In the 20th minute another Counties Manukau sortie was rewarded, albeit with a mis-fired pass from a ruck by halfback August Pulu which bounced for fullback Tim Nanai Williams to pick up and feed wing Ahsee Tuala in at the corner. With heavy rain falling Nanai Williams landed a superb conversion from the sideline.

Stowers almost created another try with a stunning midfield break when coming into the line from his left wing and poured on another burst of speed which resulted in Nanai Williams being bundled out in the corner. But in the resulting play Tasman conceded a penalty and Nanai Williams landed the three points from in front of the posts.
Replacement halfback Samisoni Fisilau created more problems for Tasman when completing a midfield burst to split the defence and have options off either hand. He chose the left where Stowers was waiting and while tackled the wet surface allowed his momentum to slide him over the line for Nanai Williams to add a conversion to the penalty goal with which he had opened the second half.

Tasman wing James Kamana almost repeated the feat with his own powerful run but he had the ball knocked free as he was tackled and the chance was lost.

No.8 Joseph Wheeler was another to shine for Tasman with some strong running, fine lineout work and covering in the No.8's traditional role. Jonathon Poff, the flanker came into his own more in the second half while the Marshall brothers in the five-eighths looked likely on occasions while Kamana looked capable of stretching the home defences.

Counties Manukau 23 (Ahsee Tuala, Sherwin Stowers tries; Tim Nanai Williams 2 con, 3 pen) Tasman 3 (Steve Alfeld pen). HT: 13-3