Frank Halai stars as Steelers humble Harbour
August 22, 2013
Frank Halia celebrates the first of his two tries
© Getty Images
Counties Manukau overwhelmed North Harbour to pick up their first win of ITM Cup, scoring five tries to one at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland to bounce back from their 55-16 thumping by Wellington in round one despite the season-long absence of Tim Nanai-Williams and cultural leader Mahonri Schwalger. So dominant were the Steelers that their third Chiefs star, Bundee Aki, remained unused on the bench until the second half when the match was already won.
Counties winger Frank Halai starred with a try either side of half-time to take the Steelers out of reach of the home side. The All Blacks prospect was given a metre of space on the half-hour, and produced a step and a fend to get him past two defenders and over the line. Five minutes into the second half, Halai picked up a loose ball 35 metres out and broke two tackles for the Steelers' bonus-point try.
First five-eighth Baden Kerr landed the conversion on the way to a 17-point haul to take the Steelers out to a 37-14 cushion before winger Ahsee Tuala crossed for the final try of the game on the siren.
Championship side North Harbour had plenty of the game, including more than 60% of possession and territory in the opening half, but they struggled to breach the opposition defence as they slumped to their second loss to Premiership opposition ahead of their fixture against rampaging Wellington. Their first-half efforts were also undone by mistakes and lapses in discipline that Kerr punished.
Harbour were on the back foot early as they conceded tries from Counties flankers Maama Vaipulu and Adam Cathcart in the opening 13 minutes, and Halai's first try then helped to push the Steelers out to a dominant 30-6 lead. Harbour produced some continuity just before the interval, and they were rewarded when reserve hooker Adrian Smith forced his wa y over.
North Harbour fullback Cody Rei clears the ball against Counties Manukau © Getty Images
© AAP with Sportal
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