More ner­vous times ahead for Steel­ers faith­ful

Franklin County News - - SPORT - ALAN APTED

Coun­ties Manukau’s race to avoid go­ing down to the sec­ond tier of the Mitre 10 Cup con­tin­ues in Palmer­ston North on Thurs­day night.

Dar­ryl Sua­sua and his ner­vous Steel­ers face hosts Manawatu at Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Arena in a match that may well de­cide their fate in the premier­ship divi­sion.

A bonus point vic­tory against a side sit­ting third in the cham­pi­onship stand­ings will keep them in the hunt for a place in semi fi­nal. It will also keep in tact the three point cush­ion the fifth placed Steel­ers’ en­joy over their south­ern neigh­bours.

A loss, on the other hand, will add to their ner­vous­ness go­ing into their fi­nal game of the round robin against Tas­man in Pukekohe, who are run­ning fourth in their premier­ship.

It could leave them in last play if Waikato beat North Har­bour on Sun­day.

The Steel­ers earned them­selves the breath­ing space with a scrappy 25-16 win over North­land on a wet and windy ECOLight Sta­dium in Pukekohe last Sun­day.

It took a late try and penalty to sub­sti­tutes Stephen Don­ald and Luteru Laulala to put the match against the Tani­wha out of reach.

Be­fore the match, the Steel­ers pub­licly farewell DJ Forbes, the leg­end of New Zealand Sevens side, who came to Coun­ties Manukau from Auck­land in 2008.

Forbes played 36 games for Coun­ties Manukau be­tween 2008 and 2015.

As for the New Zealand Sevens side, he played in over 60 tour­na­ments as a player and a cap­tain, won six Sevens World Se­ries ti­tles and two Com­mon­wealth Games gold medals.

Coun­ties Manukau chief ex­ec­u­tive Bart Hog­gard paid trib­ute to Forbes and his ca­reer, while the Steel­ers, some for­mer team mates, pre­sented Forbes with a No.7 Coun­ties Manukau jersey.

In women’s rugby, the Coun­ties Manukau un­der-18s are the No. 2 team in the Chiefs re­gion and fourth in the North­ern re­gion af­ter they lost 22-14 to Auck­land West in the play­off for third and fourth.

Coun­ties Manukau Heat will be well rested go­ing into their Farah Palmer Cup match against Welling­ton in Porirua on Satur­day.

Mitre 10 Cup: Coun­ties Manukau PIC Steel­ers 25 (Al­bert Nikoro, Tim Nanai-Wil­liams, Stephen Don­ald. Baden Kerr con, pen. Luteru Laulala con, pen) North­land 16.

Draw: Manawatu v Steel­ers, Palmer­ston North. Date: Oc­to­ber 7. Start: 7.35pm.

Points: Can­ter­bury 35, Tara- naki 31, North Har­bour 27, Tas­man 21, Auck­land 17, Coun­ties Manukau 17, Waikato 14.

Farah Palmer Cup draw: Welling­ton v Coun­ties Manukau Heat, Jerry Collins Park, Porirua. Date: Oc­to­ber 7. Start: Midday.

RICHARD SPRANGER

DJ Forbes, left, and Coun­ties Manukau chief ex­ec­u­tive Bart Hog­gard, right, ad­dress the crowd at ECOLIght Sta­dium.

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