Counties Manukau moved to the top of the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership after dismantling bottom side Hawke's Bay 48-20 at McLean Park
Counties Manukau moved to the top of the Mitre 10 Cup Premiership after dismantling bottom side Hawke's Bay 48-20 at McLean Park on Thursday.
Captain Augustine Pulu led by example for the new leaders, setting up tries for Luteru Laulala and Sam Vaka before Jordan Taufua touched down to give the visitors a 22-13 lead at half-time.
The lively Taufua helped himself to a double after the break and Sione Fifita dotted down as Counties Manukau picked up a bonus point to move a point clear of Canterbury - who have a game in hand - at the summit.
Piers Francis landed four penalties and as many conversions for a well-drilled Counties Manukau side, with tries from Robbie Fruean and Ryan Tongia in vain for a Hawke's Bay side who have now lost all three matches.
Pulu said: "I'm proud of the boys. Hawke's Bay has a lot of strike power and we knew it was going to be a tough fight so I'm proud of the boys for holding strong."