Manawatu, a decisive game for Steelers
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 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 division will keep them in the hunt for a place in semi finals. 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 on October 14. It would leave them in last place should Waikato upset North Harbour and Auckland beat Tasman.
The Steelers earned themselves some 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 beyond the Taniwha’s reach.
Before the match, the Steelers publicly farewelled DJ Forbes, the legend of New Zealand Sevens side, who came to Counties Manukau from Auckland in 2008 looking for opportunities.
Forbes played 36 games for the province between 2008 and 2015. The number would have been greater was he not so involved with sevens where he carved out a stellar career as a player and cap- tain. He played in over 60 tournaments, 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 before presenting him with a montage of photos from his years at Counties Manukau. The Steelers, many of them 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.
And the Counties Manukau Heat will be well rested going into their Farah Palmer Cup match against Wellington in Porirua on Saturday. They’ll be pumped after their loss to Canterbury.