Steel­ers gut­ted by last gasp loss to Bulls

Papakura Courier - - FRONT PAGE - ALAN APTED

The Steel­ers see North Har­bour as a chance to get their Mitre 10 Cup sea­son back on track.

The two meet at ECOLight Sta­dium in Pukekohe on to­mor­row night at 7.35pm in round four with the Steel­ers des­per­ate to get back in the premier­ship race af­ter back to back losses.

Their last minute 30-27 loss to the Taranaki Bulls in Palmer­ston North on Satur­day was hard to swal­low.

Coach Dar­ryl Sua­sua says his play­ers were gut­ted by the loss but re­main con­fi­dent they can bounce back and make the play­offs.

‘‘There is still time. The fi­nal plac­ing in last year’s premier­ship weren’t de­cided un­til the fi­nal round so there’s still have plenty to play for.

‘‘Har­bour are go­ing re­ally good. The way they de­mol­ished Auck­land (57-10) was pretty im­pres­sive. It was a typ­i­cally phys­i­cal per­for­mance from them. They were pretty di­rect and very, very ac­cu­rate.’’

Sua­sua says the lack of ac­cu­racy com­bined with sim­ple mis­takes at crit­i­cal pe­ri­ods in the game was what tripped the Steel­ers up against Taranaki.

‘‘We lost our com­po­sure at key times in that game. We’d have the ball on at­tack and then turn it over with a sim­ple mis­take. We al­most gifted Taranaki the game. The play­ers were gut­ted and pretty up­set in the sheds af­ter the match.

‘‘North Har­bour will be a chal­lenge. We can’t give away the ball as cheaply as we did against Taranaki. Our de­ci­sion mak­ing and ac­cu­racy needs to im­prove.’’

Jonathan Tau­mateine, who im­pressed be­hind the Steel­ers scrum, will likely get an­other start with the more sea­soned half­back Au­gus­tine Pulu still com­plain­ing of a bad back.

A num­ber of other play­ers pulled up sore af­ter the Taranaki game and didn’t train on Mon­day.

The Coun­ties Manukau Heat led by Rugby World Cup win­ning Black Ferns, Vic­to­ria Subr­tizkyNafa­tali, Te Kura Na­gata Aerenga­mate and Hazel Tu­bic launched their de­fence of the Farah Palmer Cup with an 84-7 de­mo­li­tion of North Har­bour in Pukekohe on Satur­day.

The Heat scored 14 tries. Aroha Heta and Ber­nadette Robert­son scored a hat trick each and Yuki Ono got a dou­ble.

The Heat face Welling­ton in the cur­tain-raiser to the Steel­ers/ North Har­bour clash, at ECOLight Sta­dium on Satur­day at 5.05pm.

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