Soft turnovers proved costly as Hawke's Bay recorded their first loss in the Mitre 10 Cup rugby competition today.
The Magpies were beaten 29-25 by the Counties-Manukau Steelers in their first outing on a revamped McLean Park turf in Napier. It was the Magpies first match against a Premiership side and the two bonus points they secured could prove vital in their quest for a Championship semifinal berth.
Both teams were guilty of turning the ball over far too often, considering the ideal weather conditions, before the Steelers opened the scoring in the 19th minute when winger Tevita Nabura raced away after a loose carry from Magpies prop Ben May. First five-eighth Latiume Fosita added the conversion from wide out.
The Magpies replied four minutes later when winger Jonah Lowe won the chase to his kick ahead.
Taking into account how close the match was Magpies fans may have been surprised when captain and hooker Ash Dixon turned down consecutive penalty attempts at in the 35th and 36th minutes. Those decisions paid off when openside flanker Josh Kaifa scored from a lineout drive in the 37th minute to give the Magpies a 10-7 halftime lead.
This was deserved as they had 70 per cent of the territory and 57 per cent of the possession.
Some clever lineout play from the Steelers saw No 8 Dan Hyatt score in the 44th minute. The Magpies regained the lead four minutes later courtesy of an intercept try from Lowe.
Counties took a 19-15 lead when hooker Joe Royal scored out wide in the 52nd minute after relentless pressure and Fosita added the extras.
Superb phase play from the Magpies resulted in the bonus point try to substitute halfback Folau Fakatava in the 59th minute. First five-eighth Tiaan Falcon slotted the conversion.
A 70th minute penalty from Fosita after Magpies No 8 Gareth Evans was ruled to be offside tied the score at 22-all. Two minutes later a Falcon penalty put the Magpies back in front.
The Steelers displayed more enterprise during the final minutes and lock Matiaha Martin scored in the76th minute close to the posts to give Fosita an easy conversion.
Hawke's Bay Magpies 25(Jonah Lowe 2, Josh Kaifa, Folau Fakatava tries; Tiaan Falcon con, pen), Counties-Manukau 29 (Tevita Nabura, Dan Hyatt, Joe Royal, Matiah Martin tries; Latiume Fosita 3 cons; pen). HT: Magpies 10-7.