Counties Manukau have continued their magnificent start to this year's NPC by beating Otago 43-12 in Pukekohe.
The win keeps the Steelers well ahead of the field in the Championship division and already it is hard to see the Tana Umaga-coached side missing out on a place in the semifinals at the least.
Otago's decision to base their squad around club players may be a commendable move in terms of winning back the local rugby fans but they are a squad without the necessary experience to overcome a well-drilled side like the Steelers.
Sherwin Stowers, who is looking for a Super Rugby contract, got the scoring under way in the fourth minute.
There were three penalties from Baden Kerr and four from Hayden Parker before Counties halfback David Bason scored in the corner in the 46th minute.
The win was sealed when sevens star Frank Halai scored in the 61st minute and Stowers scored shortly after to give Counties their fifth successive four-try bonus point, while Adam Cathcart scored the last try for the Steelers. Fairfax NZ
Counties Manukau 43 (Sherwin Stowers 2, David Bason, Frank Halai, Adam Cathcart tries; Baden Kerr 3 cons, 4 pens) Otago 12 (Hayden Parker 4 pens). Halftime: 13-12.
- The Manawatu Standard
How will the Hurricanes do in 2015?Related story: Supporting players light up Hurricanes bright start to Super Rugby season