Waikato stun Counties
Waikato have stunned the Counties Manukau Stingrays and surged their way into the rugby league national premiership final, after a 32-18 lastround victory in Auckland on Saturday. The win was Waikato’s only one of the quickfire three-round round robin, but their points differential was good enough to propel them into the decider next Saturday night at Mt Smart Stadium against defending champions the Akarana Falcons. Firstly needing Akarana to beat Canterbury at the same venue, Waikato saw that equation come through, then they had to produce the goods in a winner-take-all clash with Counties, which they did so valiantly, scoring six tries to three in a classy showing against much-more fancied opponents, who were runners-up last year.
Counties Manukau will now finish fourth and will play in the promotion/relegation match earlier next Saturday evening at Mt Smart, against Bay of Plenty, who beat Otago 26-24 in Rotorua on Saturday to take out the championship division.
AT A GLANCE Waikato 32
(Eric Taiulu 3, Aaron Jolley, Reihana Tai Rakena, Malcolme Noda tries; Aaron Jolley 4 goals)
(David Fa’aete’ete, George Edwards, Howard Brown tries; William Stowers 3 goals). 10-12.
Counties Manukau HT: 18
Waikato winger Eric Taiulu scored a hattrick as his side beat Counties Manukau.