Counties Manukau v Hawkes Bay Live

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Counties Manukau                          Hawkes Bay
Friday 28th August 07:35 GMT


The ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe will host something of a grudge match on Friday, when the Counties Manukau Steelers host the Hawkes Bay Magpies in a cross over ITM Cup match. Counties only win over the Magpies in recent seasons, came in September 2013, when they beat the Bay on their own soil by 27-24 to snatch the Ranfurly Shield away from their hosts. However, almost a year ago to the day come Friday, the Magpies recovered the Log o' Wood, with 1 27-21 win in Pukekohe.

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Just two weeks into the season, and it difficult to know what to expect from Premiership outfit, the Steelers. They nearly threw away a big lead in Round 1 at home to Manawatu, before sneaking home by a solitary point. While last week, they pushed Canterbury all the way in Christchurch, before falling by 15-20. Results that leave them in fourth position on the early season ladder.

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The Magpies on the other hand are flying in the Championship, with two try-scoring bonus point wins to their credit, putting thema point clear of Wellington at the head of the division. No one in the ITM Cup can match the 78 points that the Magpies have scored in the first two rounds of competition, 39 against each of Northland in a Shield defence, and then against Otago in Dunedin.

Posted: 30th August 2014


Counties Manukau will look for a much more efficient performance on Saturday when they host Hawkes Bay at the EcoLight Stadium in the ITM Cup. In Round 2 they registered an ITM Cup win against Otago, and in the process also successfully defended the Ranfurly Shield, but the holders were far from perfect, and also picked up a couple of injuries in the process.

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First-five Baden Kerr will be out for a month or so with a broken finger, while second-five Bundee Aki, although cleared of suffering concussion, has a sore neck and is doubtful for the fixture on Saturday. Some good news for Counties Manukau is that Tim Nanai Williams, who missed the Otago game to be at the birth of his son, is likely to return to the starting XV. However, if Ahsee Tuala has another mixed day with the boot, as he did last weekend, then the result might be very different. Hawkes Bay will certainly be after revenge for their loss last year to the Steelers. At the time they had held the Shield for just six days, when they lost it to their visitors.  

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The Magpies will welcome All Black fullback Israel Dagg, who has been released for provincial duty. Bay will have an impressive back three with Ryan Tongia and Highlanders cult hero Richard Buckman alongside Dagg. This promises to be another epic Shield contest, which may go all the way to the wire, and finally be decided by the side that can prove more clinical than they were in the ITM Cup Round 2.

Tags: EcoLight Stadium, Counties Manukau, Hawkes Bay, ITM Cup, Baden Kerr, Tim Nanai Williams, Ryan Tongia
Posted: 28th August 2015

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