Counties Manukau 21-27 Hawkes Bay
Ryan Tongia’s 66th-minute try led to Hawke’s Bay recapturing the Ranfurly Shield after defeating Counties Manukau in Pukekohe.
Ihaia West added the extra two points for a final score of 27-21, as the visitors held onto their narrow lead in the final minutes.
The defensive effort in fact from Hawke’s Bay in the closing minutes was outstanding, repelling Counties’ continued assault on their line.
The loss meant that Counties let go of the Ranfurly Shield which they had been holding since September 7 last year for the first time in their history including six successful defences.
Hawke’s Bay brought a backline packed full of Super Rugby experience to Pukekohe and outscored their hosts four tries to two, although two of those scores went to openside flanker Brendan O’Connor.
The 24-year-old Blues player crossed twice within ten minutes in the first half to put the visitors in control.
Scrum-half Chris Eaton’s long-range try later on in the half gave Hawke’s a sizeable lead, countered by two penalties from Ahsee Tuala and one from Tim Nanai-Williams.
Counties then managed to cross the whitewash twice after the interval, with Onosa’I Tololima-Auva’a and then Augustine Pulu touching down to put the hosts back ahead with Nanai-Williams’ conversion.
But Tongia was then on hand to swing the lead once more, benefiting from the class of Israel Dagg at full-back in his first appearance for Hawke’s Bay since 2011.
The visitors then did enough to cling on for the win and to take the Shield for the fifth time in their history.
For Counties Manukau:
Tries: Tololima-Auva’a, Pulu
Pens: Tuala 2, Nanai-Williams
For Hawke’s Bay:
Tries: O’Connor 2, Eaton, Tongia
Cons: West 2
Counties Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams (c), 14 Frank Halai, 13 Rey Lee-lo, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Ahsee Tuala, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Onosa’i Auva’a, 6 Johnny Kawau, 5 Jimmy Tupou, 4 Ronald Raaymakers, 3 Jarrod Firth, 2 Suliasi Taufalele, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Sione Anga’aelangi, 17 Sean Bagshaw, 18 Viliami Rarasea, 19 Maama Vaipulu, 20 Kane Hancy, 21 Michael Stanley, 22 Sam Vaka.
Hawke’s Bay: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Robbie Freuan, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Ryan Tongia, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Tony Lamborn, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Brendon Edmonds.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Adrian Barone, 18 Tom Parsons, 19 Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 20 Ellery Wilson, 21 Jason Shoemark, 22 Mat Berquist.
Referee: Mike Fraser