Counties travelled to Christchurch’s Nga Puna Wai to take on competition leaders South Island.
Early errors from the home side saw immediate points for the Auckland outfit as Timothy Tiatia finished in style crossing over in the corner. Five minutes later South Island struck back as an attacking kick from Oliver Lawry ricocheted into the hands of Jacob Lowe as he went under the posts. Halbert-Pere added the extras to put them up 6-4 early
Off the ensuing kick off South Island charged down the field and put their stamp on the game scoring through number 14 Taani Fangupo, making the score 10-4. Not done yet, South Island halfway through the first half again found themselves in open space only for Tiatia to save a try for Counties Manukau. Counties scored with five minutes left in the half through Samuel Hansen as the score saw 10-8 going into the halftime break.
Only minutes into the second stanza South Island half Makaia Tafua forced his way over as they extended their advantage to six points. The second half was defined by the stifling defense from South Island who held Counties out on multiple occasions, not budging on their own line. These defensive sets were the foundation for number 11 Tupou Kaufononga and centre Siaki’s second half tries, completing an all-round performance.
With seven minutes remaining, Counties scored a consolation as Hansen grabbed his second, with the fulltime score reading 24-12 to the home side.
SOUTH ISLAND 24 (Tries: Jacob Lowe, Taani Fangupo, Makaia Tafua, Tupou Kaufononga, Vaione Siaki, Conversions: Mata Halbert-Pere 2/5) defeated COUNTIES MANUKAU 12 (Tries: Timothy Tiatia, Samuel Hansen 2; Conversions: Teariki Ford 0/3)