Counties Manukau win ITM Cup Championship
The Counties Manukau Steelers are back in the big time after claiming the ITM Championship title with a convincing 41-16 victory over Otago in the final held at ECOLight Stadium in Pukekohe this evening.
The famous and historic win seals a stellar season for the side and sees the Steelers gain promotion into the Premiership for the 2013 ITM Cup season.
Counties made the best possible start to the final as they showed their trademark attack as winger Sherwin Stowers found space down the sideline before linking up with a supporting August Pulu for the opening try.
The interplay between forwards and backs was a feature in the home sides play early on as Steelers first five Baden Kerr and Otago captain Glenn Dickson traded penalties.
The visitors eventually settled into their pattern and an opportunity to put the heat on the Steelers defensive line was rewarded when veteran loose forward Adam Thomson bustled his way over the line on the back of an unstoppable line out maul.
Both sides had scoring chances with Otago most likely to cross as winger Buxton Popoali’i found himself in open space but his opposite Tony Pulu was up to the task making the try-saving tackle. However, Dickson did manage to kick his side ahead with a well struck penalty soon after.
The Razorbacks lead did not last long as the Steelers wrestled the advantage back with a brilliantly angled run by Mark Selwyn as he crashed his way under the posts.
The final scoring play came courtesy of Kerr’s boot as he nailed his second three pointer five minutes before the halftime break ensuring the went to the sheds leading 20-13.
Counties discipline seemed to let them down in the opening ten minutes of the second spell but fortunate to only concede a solitary penalty to Dickson.
The vocal Steelers crowd were on their feet again when the Counties backs stamped their class combining with a lovely interchange of passes as Pulu picked up his second try of the match.
The Steelers found another gear in attack as a long range effort was capped off by in form fullback Tim Nanai Williams only for replacement halfback David Bason to seal the deal when he squeezed through for a try minutes from full time.
Eventually referee Keith Brown signaled for full time and ECOLight Stadium erupted as Counties Manukau claimed a famous victory winning comprehensively 41-16.
It brings an end to a breathtaking and entertaining Steelers season as 2013 holds plenty of promise for Counties Manukau rugby. Be sure to keep up to date with all your Steelers news by heading to the website or on Facebook.
Counties Manukau Steelers be proud, your side are the 2012 ITM Cup Championship winners.