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ITM Cup ITM Cup: Hawke's Bay march on in Championship Division

Hawke's Bay beat Counties Manukau to maintain their position at the top of the ITM Cup Championship Division.

  • Published:
play (Omni Sports)

Hawke's Bay extended their lead at the top of the ITM Cup Championship Division with a 35-11 bonus-point victory at Counties Manukau on Friday.

The Ranfurly Shield holders have made a blistering start to the campaign and have now picked up maximum points from their opening three fixtures.

Hawke's Bay led 6-3 after half an hour and stepped up a gear in the final 10 minutes of the first half to give themselves a healthy cushion.

Lock Mark Abbott powered over the line on the 30-minute mark before Andrew Horrell touched down in the corner following good work from Richard Buckman " Ihaia West kicking the extras from both.

Piers Francis reduced the deficit by three with a penalty early in the second half, but Zac Guildford crossed the whitewash as Hawke's Bay opened up a 30-6 lead by the 48th minute.

Guildford twice had tries ruled out by the television match official, much to the relief of the well-beaten hosts, but the winger was lucky to escape punishment for an apparent tip tackle.

Maama Vaipulu finished off a driving maul to at least carry Counties Manukau into double figures, but Shannan Chase went over late on to clinch the bonus point.

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