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Hawke's Bay celebrates

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Sunday, August 13, 2006    Photosport

Hawke's Bay looked the better prepared and hungrier of the two teams and deservedly took five points out of the game to get itself out of the Pool B basement.

The Magpies never relinquished the lead after taking it through a third minute penalty goal from first five-eighths Mathew Berquist.

Blair Feeney replied for Counties two minutes later with a penalty of his own to make the score 3-3 but that was as close has his team got.

Magpies second five-eighths Joe Wright scored the first of his team's seven tries after he charged down a midfield kick from Counties fullback Koiatu Koiatu.

Aayden Clarke replaced an injured Berquist and slotted a difficult sideline conversion to stretch the lead to 10-3.

Clarke kicked another penalty goal before right wing Ryan Glover capitalised on hooker Danny Logan's half-break and scored in the right hand corner after 25 minutes.

Counties centre Niva Ta'auso was lucky not to concede a penalty try when he deliberately flicked the ball dead in-goal to deny Hawke's Bay's Will Crutchley the points.

Soon after a sequence of Magpie forward drives put halfback Danny Lee in position to dive over from the back of the ruck. The try was converted by an impressively accurate Clarke as he stretched the lead out to 27-3.

Counties saved face just before the half when right wing Lelia Masaga was on hand to finish off some slick backline passing.

Halftime saw Hawke's Bay with a well deserved 27 – 10 lead.

After the restart, Magpies replacement lock Bryn Evans scored to further press home the advantage and this seemed to break the back of the Counties' resistance.

Tries to prop Clint Newland and winger Lote Raikabula essentially sealed the game and took Hawke’s Bay to an almost unassailable 44-10 lead.

Replacement back Troy Nathan scored an easy try after Counties captain Ben Meyer changed direction midfield and created a big left hand over-lap.

In the dying minutes a resurgent Counties grabbed a bonus point when Simon Lemalu waltzed through tired defenders and Masaga broke clear to score his second try.

Hawke's Bay thoroughly deserved its comprehensive win and should also be pleased with the dynamic performance of 18-year-old fullback Israel Dagg. His athletic and hard running was a continual threat to the lethargic Counties defence.

A disappointed Counties will have to re-group in time for next week after dropping a game that was surely earmarked as a must-win at the start of the season.

Scores:

Hawke's Bay 51 (Joe Wright, Ryan Glover, Danny Lee, Bryn Evans, Tom Symes, Lote Raikabula, Michael Johnson tries; Aayden Clarke 5 con, pen; Matt Berquist pen) Counties Manukau 29 (Lelia Masaga 2, Troy Nathan, Simon Lemalu tries; Blair Feeney 3 con, pen). HT: 27-10