Manawatu, a de­ci­sive game for Steel­ers

Papakura Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - 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 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.

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