Three Fijians scored a try each in Taranaki’s 37-29 win against the Counties Manukau in the opening match of the Bunning’s National Provincial Championship in New Zealand on Friday evening.
Just three minutes into the match, the Counties took advantage of an unsettled Taranaki and shed the first blood through experienced prop Kauvaka Kaivelata but conversion was unsuccessful.
Four minutes later, Taranaki regrouped and responded with a try from midfield back Teihorangi Thomas Walden, conversion failed as both teams were locked at 5-5.
After a strong 15 minutes of arm wrestle, cricketer turned rugby player Kaylum Boshier pulled the second try for Taranaki and Blues fly-half Stephen Perofeta converted to give Taranaki a 12-5 lead for the first time in the match.
Counties tried to make a comeback in the match with their second try from Chiefs star Etene Nanai-Seturo and this time Riley Hohepa converted.
Taranaki was awarded a penalty which Perofeta kicked for a narrow 15-12 lead at the break.
Four minutes into the second spell, young Blues winger Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, who shares links to Fiji, found an unmarked Fijian and Hurricanes new find Kini Naholo as he took the ball and dived in the left corner to touch down but conversion failed.
The Counties were awarded their first penalty which Hohepa slotted beautifully but Taranaki had other plans as Boshier bagged his second try and Perofeta converted.
Taranaki charged back onto their attack and Jayson Potroz sent a long pass to Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, who raced his way to the try line before lock Alex McRobbie scored a try for the Counties and Hohepa converted to merge the score at 32-22.
Taranaki was awarded a scrum which Matt McKenzie fed and Perofeta took it and swung it to Meihana Grindlay as he whipped a pass to Fiji-born Highlanders winger Vereniki Tikoisolomone as he wrong footed the cover and burst to the tryline to ensure the side a victory.
Junior Tupou managed to score a late consolation try for the Counties.
In another match, Tasman defeated Otago 27-15.