The Hawke's Bay Magpies have their first win of 2020, defeating Counties Manukau 31-17 at McLean Park in Napier.
Hawke's Bay seemed to relish the sunny conditions and made a positive start to the game with ball in hand, building attacking phases as they crossed the 22-metre line.
In the seventh minute, player of the day Stacey Ili challenged the line and got a spectacular offload away to halfback Brad Weber, allowing the All Black to coast in for the opening score.
The Magpies continued to look dangerous, particularly through Ili, before Counties first five Baden Kerr got his side on the board with a penalty a couple of minutes later.
Winger Lolagi Visinia was almost through the Steelers' line soon afterwards, only to be halted by a high tackle from Counties No 8 Sam Slade which saw him yellow-carded.
Then it was the forwards' turn to make a statement, with Hawke's Bay forcing a penalty from a defensive scrum inside their attacking 22 and turning the screws with back-to-back lineout mauls.
Counties couldn't withstand the pressure, and the Magpies were awarded a penalty try when lock Matiaha Martin dragged the second maul down, earning himself a yellow card as well.
On the half-hour mark, fullback Kurt Baker took full advantage of a handy bounce from a Counties clearing kick, streaking down the sideline before finding the always available Weber for his second try.
The Magpies were in again almost immediately when outstanding centre Ili broke the line once more and found Baker, who put Visinia in for his first try in Hawke's Bay colours.
There were signs of revitalised life from the Steelers just before the break though, and winger Kirisi Kuridrani bagged their first try off the back of a beautiful set play from an attacking lineout.
But having dominated possession and territory throughout the half, the home team went into the break fully deserving of their 16-point lead.
Counties came out with far more vigour to start the second term, and it wasn't until the 57th minute that the Magpies threatened to score through openside flanker Brendon O'Connor, but for wing Jonah Lowe stepping over the touchline.
The Steelers scored after the hour mark with Slade crashing over after some attacking phases in the tight for the visitors.
But Hawke's Bay quashed any hopes of a comeback immediately when their own No 8 Devan Flanders was set up for a try by fellow loosie Marino Mikaele-Tu'u for a bonus-point victory.
Hawke's Bay assistant coach Josh Syms said his team had moments where they were fantastic, but also moments where they let scoring chances slip away.
"As much as it's pleasing to get the win, which is what we needed to get back on track, the boys are probably a bit dirty on themselves," he said, adding that Counties were probably the better side over the last 50 minutes of the game.
Syms felt the second half, in which the Steelers outscored the Magpies 7-5, was pretty scratchy from both teams: "We were probably guilty of expecting it to happen without providing the physical edge that we needed."
The Magpies will be at home again this week when they play Canterbury at 7.05 pm on Saturday, September 26.
Hawke's Bay 31 (Brad Weber 2, Penalty try, Lolagi Visinia, Devan Flanders tries; Lincoln McClutchie 2/3 cons, 0/1 pen, Caleb Makene 0/1 con, 0/1 pen)
Counties Manukau 17 (Kirisi Kuridrani, Sam Slade tries; Baden Kerr 1/1 pen, 2/2 cons)