Bay of Plenty 30 - 31 Counties Manukau
Steelers snatch last-gasp win over Steamers
September 29, 2013
A last-gasp Baden Kerr penalty has snatched Counties Manukau a 31-30 win over Bay of Plenty in Rotorua and taken them to the verge of the National Provincial Championship (NPC) semi-finals.
Bay of Plenty looked to have produced the decisive play five minutes from time when their set-piece dominance again came to the fore. They destroyed a Counties Manukau five-metre scrum and prop Kane Hames pounced on the loose ball to score.
At 28-28, fly-half Willie Ripia then landed his sixth successful kick from six attempts to convert and take the home side into a two-point lead. But the Steamers paid for their inability to close out the match out, allowing the Steelers back down the field before conceding a break-down penalty that Kerr slotted with the very last act.
The result cements fourth spot for the Steelers, while the Steamers remain rooted at the bottom of the Premiership after their sixth successive loss.
Counties Manukau looked like they would race away with the game early on, after tries to loose forwards Maama Vaipulu and Fritz Lee had them up 12-0 in as many minutes. But Bay of Plenty, whose superb mauling was a feature of the contest, produced a great line-out drive in the 26th minute to strike back with a try to Queensland Reds flanker Beau Robinson.
Down 15-13 early in the second half, the Steamers finally hit the front thanks to another big line-out drive, this time hooker Nathan Harris the try-scorer.
In a see-sawing battle, the Steelers came back in the 64th minute when, after a patient build-up, hooker Hika Elliot forced his way over. That set the scene for the match's final twist and turn, as Hames's try and Ripia's conversion were cancelled out by Kerr's killer blow.
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