Turbos Edge Southland in Extra Time
Manawatu claim last-minute win over Southland, 34-31 in Palmerston North.
A hat trick of tries to second five, Ngani Laumape and a perfect kicking game from first five, Otere Black, led Manawatu to a thrilling finish coming out the victors in the final play of the game.
After the hooter had sounded, Black had a penalty kick to win the game just minutes after Southland had equalised through a try in the corner to make it 31-31.
A true game of two halves, Manawatu had jumped out to a startling 24-0 lead at half time, but two quick tries to the Stags after the break meant the game was still very much alive.
Turbos captain, Callum Gibbins, said it was expected Southland would come out better after the interval. “We talked about it at the break,” said Gibbins. “We always knew they were going to come out at us.”
Gibbins commented that while it was a good start, things started to slip away in the second half. “Really good start from the boys,” said Gibbins. “Just switched off and before you know it they were over the line. We just needed to make our tackles.”
Gibbins lauded the efforts of first five, Black who showed tonight why he is one of the best kickers in the competition. “He’s a good man to have on your team,” said Gibbins.
After two gruelling matches, Gibbins looked to enjoy the win before focussing on the next game. “We’ll enjoy tonight and like about [the next game] more on Monday,” said Gibbins. “We’ve got Waikato so we’ll see what happens with the shield and take it from there.”
The match started out with a hiss and a roar from the home team when Captain Gibbins made a barnstorming run down the left flank, pushing off defenders as he dotted down with just six minutes on the clock.
Manawatu were looking good with some fancy footwork and classy offloads creating opportunities out wide. Winger, Newton Tudreu impressed early, inspiring an exciting brand of running rugby from the Turbos.
A combination of some inclement weather and being away from home, was too much for Southland who made a number of errors, giving away possession in crucial areas of the park.
Another penalty conceded by the Stags enabled Black to knock it over and after 12 minutes the Turbos were up 10-0.
After a number of phases, Southland found themselves 10 metres from the Manawatu line but thanks to some strong defence from the likes of Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, the Stags couldn’t break the line.
In what is becoming a hallmark of this Turbos side, their defence was rewarded and the Stags were denied their maiden points of the evening. Their lack of disciple in the opposition 22 is what let them down in the first half.
A beautiful pass from Chris Eves put fullback, Jason Emery into a hole who floated a lofty offload to Ngani Laumape who dives over the line at 18 minutes. Black adds the extras as they stretch their lead out to 17-0.
It only took 10 minutes for Laumape getting his second of the night with some strong runs from the Turbos. Jason Emery pouncing on some flat-footed Stags defenders and releases Laumape to go under the posts to make it 24-0.
Going in to the half time break, Stags hadn’t taken advantage of their time with the ball with 61 percent of time being spent in the Manawatu half. Eight missed tackles had also proved costly.
It was a whole different story in the second half as within five minutes, little mistakes from the Turbos meant the Stags had scored twice to make it 24-14, Mika Mafi and Junior Ngaluafe the try-scorers.
As with last week, set pieces such as lineouts weren’t tidy for Manawatu as the pressure began to mount on the home team.
An intercept from centre, Hamish Northcott put Manawatu back in front as he passed off to Laumape to score under the posts and complete his hat trick. This meant after 48 minutes, it was 31-14.
It had seemed the Turbos had woken up after a poor start but Southland had more to give as talented first five, Hawera Wharenui converted his own try to reduce the difference to just ten. A monster penalty from the half way line seven minutes later made the gap just seven with 15 minutes left on the clock.
The game went back and forth as the rain began to thunder down at Central Energy Trust Arena as neither team wanted to give up the game. The Turbos were maintaining until some classy skills from the southerners saw Fukofuka go over in the corner. A difficult kick from out wide was converted and it was 31-31 with two minutes left to play.
The game seemed to have one last piece of drama left in it and sure enough, the Stags concede a penalty about 30 metres out slightly to the right of the uprights. Black maintained his composure and rounded out the night with a perfect game, winning it for Manawatu, 34-31.
Manawatu will be happy to secure another tough win but will look to phase out the little errors that almost cost them tonight.
Manawatu: 34 (Ngani Laumape 3, Callum Gibbins tries; Otere Black 4 cons, 2 pens).
Southland: 31 (Mika Mafi, Junior Ngaluafe, Hawera Wharenui, Bill Fukofuka tries; Hawera Wharenui 4 cons, 1 pen).
HT | 24-0 Manawatu
Adam Pearse: Turbos Reporter