A last-minute try after a turnover robbed the Bay of Plenty Steamers of a pre-season win against Manawatu in Whakatane.

The Steamers, without a number of key players, looked good in patches but struggled at times against a committed Manawatu defence.

Winning the match was not the number one priority for the side - as evidenced by their running the ball from under their own sticks while holding just a five-point lead with minutes to play - with the coaching staff instead using the fixture to evaluate players and combinations.

Carl Axtens played one of his best games in a Steamers jersey, as did Tim Bond, who was typically abrasive in the tackle and at the breakdown.


Elliot Hagen, who was signed by the province last week to strengthen the stocks in the outside backs, was sharp at fullback on debut.

Manawatu 24 (Hamish Gosling, George Nate, Ma'afu Fia tries; Jade Te Ruru 2 cons, pen; Nate con)

Bay of Plenty 22 (Kalem Chan Boon, Josh Sole, Kane Hames tries; Willie Ripia 2 cons, pen).