Turbos defeat Northland
A resilient Turbos outfit came away with a thrilling 34-27 victory over Northland.
It was a clear night at Toll Stadium, Whangarei where Northland and Manawatu kicked off their Mitre 10 Cup campaigns. The teams, side by side, were fairly different; Manawatu having a solid backline with a strong bench whereas Northland started the match with five debutants.
It was a hard-fought and at some times, scrappy contest, worthy of a first round dust up. Northland were the ones that came out of the gate firing and put Manawatu under a lot of pressure early on.
However, as was the story of the game, strong defence and good composure meant the Turbos didn’t concede a point until 29 minutes had passed.
Northland looked good with ball in hand but just couldn’t capitalise on their possession whereas Manawatu took every opportunity, pushing out to a 17-0 lead after just 22 minutes. However, when Turbos midfielder Hamish Northcott was sin binned, this was where Northland exploited their extra man advantage and piled on the points.
The play was fairly back and forth with a lot of running rugby that was attractive to watch. Manawatu’s backline of Malcolm, Curtis, Laumape, Northcott, Tudreu, and Emery worked together well, with busting runs off the back of smart set pieces.
Manawatu’s strong bench played a significant role in securing the win away from home. The experience and skill of Otere Black, Callum Gibbins, and Jamie Booth meant the Turbos kept their composure and used the ball wisely. The power of replacements, Chris Eves and Valentino Mapapalangi gave them the strength to withstand a threatening Taniwha attack.
Captain, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, put in another inspired performance, setting the groundwork for the first Turbos try and bagging one himself. His ruthless defence and presence at the ruck unsettled Northland in what was a defining characteristic of Manawatu’s performance.
The game started off with a hiss and a roar, as Northland came out of the tunnel and looked the superior team by far, however, Manawatu’s defence was up to the task, repelling a barrage of Northland attacks inside the first 10 minutes.
A good backline move saw winger, Ambrose Curtis slice through the defence and soon earn a penalty
out in front of the sticks. Normally Otere Black’s understudy, first five, Sam Malcolm missed the kick in what would be his only blemish in a stellar game for the young Varsity player.
Despite both teams’ defences looking strong, Bedwell-Curtis powered through a tackle to get the Turbos to within 10 metres of the Northland line. From there, it was simply a matter of putting it through the hands and a good offload from fullback, Jason Emery to put Ngani Laumape in for the first points of the night.
Only one minute of the first 10 was spent in the Northland half but thanks to some fancy footwork and a strong run from Emery, Manawatu had a penalty within kicking distance on the right hand side. They opted for the lineout which seemed to be the Turbos only weakness of the night as they lost possession.
A sniping run from veteran halfback, Toby Morland, saw another kickable penalty go Manawatu’s way which Malcolm converted. It was this positivity of play that saw the Turbos push their lead to 10-0 after 20 minutes.
A massive scrum against the possession from Manawatu saw them drive over the ball and picked up by Bedwell-Curtis. With a strong fend and a dummy that would make any outside back proud, the captain went through and dotted down under the sticks. Manawatu were looking strong at 17-0 after 22 minutes.
Following this, Northland went on the attack and found themselves just metres from the Manawatu line. The Turbos conceded multiple penalties when it all became too much for the referee when Hamish Northcott was adjudged to have been playing the ball on the ground and not rolling away and was awarded a yellow card.
This lead to a points frenzy from Northland who, with the extra man advantage, piled on 19 points with tries to Warren Dunn and a double to Michael Faleafa. Northland went into the break leading 19-17.
The second half was much like the first and was fairly back and forth. An early penalty meant Turbos kicker, Sam Malcolm, put Manawatu ahead at 20-19. However, after 60 minutes on the clock, an unconverted try to Northland’s Jack Ram and a further penalty meant the Turbos were seven points adrift at 20-27.
Turbos substitute and Hurricanes player, Otere Black put things back on even keel when after many phases, Black executes a pin point cross-kick to wing Ambrose Curtis and added the extras from a hard conversion in the corner.
With little time left in the match, replacement halfback and promising talent, Jamie Booth found a hole in the Northland defence and sprinted 40 metres to be cut short just before the line. The ball went through the hands out to Jason Emery who muscled his way over to secure the win for Manawatu with less than four minutes to go.
The Turbos looked a threatening outfit with many players performing starring roles across the park. Should this form continue, Manawatu will be hopeful they can topple some of the bigger provinces in this year’s Mitre 10 Cup.
Manawatu’s next game is at home against Southland on Friday 36th August, kick off at 5.45pm.
Manawatu: 34 (Ngani Laumape, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Ambrose Curtis, Jason Emery tries; Sam Malcolm 2 cons, 2 pens; Otere Black 2 cons).
Northland: 27 (Michael Faleafa 2, Warren Dunn, Jack Ram tries; Peter Breen 2 cons, 1 pen).
HT: 19-17 Northland.
Adam Pearse-Turbos Reporter