Waikato win thriller after holding off Counties' late charge

Waikato have managed to get their second win of the season after downing Counties Manukau in a high-scoring game in Pukekohe.

It was a dream start by the visitors who scored early through Declan O’Donnell. Fletcher Smith maintaining his 100 percent record at goal kicking this season with a superb kick to convert the first try.

Counties managed to score through a brilliant break, Kali Hala supporting through the middle and scoring under the post.

Waikato hit back almost immediately, scoring two tries in five minutes. The first coming through Balyn Sullivan with a brilliant back line shift and the second coming through Luke Jacobson’s brilliant work to turn over the ball at the ruck which saw replacement winger Newton Tudreu go over.

At halftime Waikato led 21-7.

Seven minutes into the second half Waikato added to their lead through a try to Hamilton Burr which gave Waikato a bonus point.

The 60th minute marked the start of a Counties comeback, their first try coming off a line-out which 14 men joined as captain Sam Henwood scored.

Riley Hohepa scored off a Waikato error in the 71st minute which cut the margin to 12 points.

After back-to-back penalties, the Steelers scored another try from a lineout drive in the 77th minute with replacement hooker Donald Maaka the tryscorer. With Hohepa converting, the difference was only five points.

Waikato managed to hold off a late surge by Counties who came away with a bonus point.