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Hawke's Bay power to third win

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Lynn McConnell     28 Aug 2015     Getty Images

With Wellington starting with a hiss and a roar and looking to make their Championship stay as brief as possible, Hawke's Bay, the Ranfurly Shield holders provided an emphatic show of their worth in over-powering Counties Manukau with a bonus point try win.

A strong period in the final 10 minutes of the first half proved the key to the win. Counties Manukau won a turnover around the 30-minute mark but in trying to move the ball to safety an errant pass was intercepted by Hawke's Bay centre Richard Buckman. Mounting an attack, a kick was put through to the corner for fullback Israel Dagg to chase.

The ball was carried back by Counties Manukau and from a five-metre scrum the ball was moved to two mid-field rucks before lock Mark Abbott picked up the ball and ploughed over the line.

Two minutes later, Buckman was in the action again when skipper and No.8 Brendon O'Connor capitalised on a tap penalty taken by first five-eighths Ihaia West. Dagg set up a ruck off which O'Connor broke superbly and created another ruck which saw the ball moved back to the right where Buckman shaped to kick before feeding a ball to second five-eighths Andrew Horrell who went over in the corner.

Turnovers were not helpful for Counties Manukau all night. After penalty goals had been exchanged in the first minutes after half-time, Counties Manukau won another turnover but as the ball was moved through forwards out in the backline, prop Sean Bagshaw threw a pass which Guildford tapped up, regathered and then cleared out for the line to score in the tackle in the corner.

Moments later it looked Guildford would score again but for the second time on the night he was denied by the TMO. On the first occasion in the first half he was ruled to have made a double movement to get over the line, but in the 50th minute it was obstruction inside him by hooker Ash Dixon that denied him the try.

Guildford blotted his copybook with a tip tackle that went undetected.

Counties Manukau weren't without impact in the game, none more than second five-eighths Johnny Fa'auli who ensured some discomfort overnight for some of the visiting backs with the power of his tackles.

Wing Sione Fifita had some encouraging bursts on the ball but the Hawke's Bay defence was too sound and even the attempts to develop rolling mauls were defused every time until the 67th minute. Hard-working No.8 Maama Vaipulu had reward for his efforts, and the team too benefited from the choice to kick a penalty to the corner to set up a driving maul which Vaipulu finished.

The bonus point came after a powerful mid-field break by blindside flanker Tony Lamborn. From a ruck set up in the 22m area, the ball was taken to the blindside by replacement halfback Chris Eaton and he was able to feed wing Shannan Chase in for the try.

Scorers: Counties Manukau 11 (Maama Vaipulu try; Piers Francis 2 pen) Hawke's Bay 35 (Mark Abbott, Andrew Horrell, Zac Guildford, Shannan Chase tries; Ihaia West 3 con, 3 pen). HT: 3-20