Rugby: Steamers slump to fourth defeat

By Peter White

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Steamers hooker Nathan Harris takes on the Southland defence.
Steamers hooker Nathan Harris takes on the Southland defence.

The Steamers fell to their fourth straight loss with a poor 33-25 home defeat to Southland, the bottom team in the second tier ITM Championship.

The game was played in perfect conditions at ASB Baypark last night and there was a special thrill for four AIMS Games Sevens teams, who played their pool matches as the curtain raisers to the big game in front of 3342 fans.

Steamers first-five Willie Ripia kicked a penalty after the opening play lasted two minutes but the Stags were unlucky when a marginal forward pass wiped out a try set up by the dazzling feet of fullback Robbie Robinson.

Hooker Nathan Harris burst away from a ruck to spark the Steamers' best attack after 18 minutes and Ripia doubled the score from the resulting penalty. A poor kick by halfback Samisoni Fisilau gifted three points to Southland from an offside call and they took the lead 10-6 after hooker Talemaitoga Tuapati crashed over for a converted try.

Scott Eade kicked one and Ripia two penalties to close the Stags' lead to 13-12 as the Steamers lost Carl Axtens and Albert Anae to injury.

But after the siren sounded, they finally put some good phases together and winger Kimami Sitauti scored a fine try. Ripia converted to give the Bay an unconvincing 19-13 lead at the break after a forgettable first 40 minutes.

The Steamers looked fired up after the break and gained an early three points after big halfback Sitauti controlled the play well to give his team momentum. Kenny Lynn looked lively in the midfield throughout.

A tighthead from the dominant Steamers scrum saw Joe Tupe score in the corner but he was called back for a dubious knock-on call before Ripia kicked his sixth penalty to open up a 12 point lead with 22 minutes left to play.

Southland stormed back through using their big forward pack and crashed over under the posts for a seven pointer scored by Elliot Dixon. Worse was to follow when the Stags scored again through first-five Marty McKenzie and the visitors were ahead 27-25.

Eade stretched it out to 33-25 with two strikes from the kicking tee as the Steamers conceded 20 unanswered points in a dismal 15 minutes.

Bay of Plenty 25 (Kimami Sitauti try; Willie Ripia con, 6 pens) Southland 33 (Talemaitoga Tuapati, Elliot Dixon, Marty McKenzie tries; Scott Eade 3 cons, 4 pen)

- Bay of Plenty Times

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