Well, they aren't all going to be 50 point wins. THAT was a gutsy effort from our lads and after a niggly 80 minutes, our boys collected our 4th consecutive W of the season accounting for Counties Manukau 27-18.
The scoring started straight away and Sione Mafileo was the days first try scorer, crashing over from a few metres out after a great opening forward effort, picking and going down the centre of the field after collecting a Counties Manukau fumble. Bryn Gatland converted and we led 7-0 after 3.
Gatland added 3 more after Counties-Manukau were pinged for collapsing a ruck at 8 minutes, and he bought up 50 points for the season 5 minutes later at the 13 minute mark when Counties-Manukau were caught offside under their own posts.
Counties-Manukau picked up 2 penalties for infringements in the Harbour red zone, and after a knock to Gatland's right quad, Ben Volavola took over the kicking. He added 3 at the 21 minute mark when Counties-Manukau were penalised for hands in the ruck, and again at 29 minutes for an obstruction infringement, making the score 16-6 approaching half time.
Matt Vaega went agonisingly close in the right wing corner, to be correctly ruled out by the TMO, and after missing a penalty out in from on the stroke of half time, Tim Nanai-Williams tore through the middle of the Harbour defence to feed Laulala on the right wing to score on the hooter. 16-11 Harbour at half time.
The second half turned into quite a torrid affair with both sides ringing the changes early, and the Counties-Manukau forwards really pushing our boys. The odd bit of niggle crept in and it was Counties-Manukau who were first to score in the second stanza through Nanai-Williams again, who scored himself to the right of the posts after some pretty average Harbour defence. 18-16 Counties-Manukau after 48.
Volavola added in threes at the 55 and 58 minute marks as Counties-Manukau were sanctioned repeatedly for tackling without the ball, and Harbour were up 22-18 with 9 left on the clock. Offensive defense over the next 5 minutes led by Glenn Preston (my man of the match - ED) who seemed to tackle anything that even THOUGHT about moving, led to Preston collecting a crucial turnover, sensational ball retention, and Tevita Li dancing down the sideline to score. Volavola's conversion hit the upright, but it was all done bar the shouting at that point, and after 80 minutes, we collected a well deserved 27-18 victory, to hit the top of the Premiership table, remaining undefeated after 4 games.
North Harbour 27 (Sione Mafileo, Tevita Li tries; Bryn Gatland con, pen; Ben Volavola 4 pen)
Counties Manukau 18 (Luteru Laulala, Tim Nanai-Williams tries; Laulala con, 2 pen )
Next we have Northland in Whangarei, next Thursday 14th September.
(Standing slow clap) lads, we salute you!