Turbos Fall to Taranaki in Tough Conditions
A strong second half from the Bulls saw them overcome the Turbos, 30-19.
As the rain pelted down in New Plymouth, Manawatu found themselves in a tight tussle with premiership side; Taranaki.
There is a strong rivalry between these two sides and tensions heightened as the game progressed. Both teams brought a sense of physicality to their play that, in terrible conditions, saw the game operate in frustrating periods ruled by the ref’s whistle.
Manawatu had a consistent theme of giving away penalties at crucial times and meant prime field position wasn’t converted into points. Simple errors such as knock-ons at vital points in the game hindered Manawatu from building any momentum.
Despite another outstanding night with the boot for Otere Black and a mediocre one from Marty McKenzie, the Turbos couldn’t cross the line enough and fell away towards the end. Taranaki kept their composure in trying conditions to win by a comfortable 11-point margin.
Captain and work horse, Callum Gibbins congratulated his west coast rivals, identifying their ability to play well in wet conditions as a key factor leading to their victory. “They played really well. The conditions limited it to the high balls, they caught theirs and we dropped a couple of ours but I thought it was a good game.”
Throughout the game, there were moments of rough and tumble amongst the players, something Gibbins said was an enjoyable part of the game. “Yeah it was a good game. I quite enjoy that sort of stuff.”
Looking forward, Gibbins is optimistic that if errors are reduced, Manawatu will taste some success. “We’re competitive now so I think if we limit our errors, we look after the ball, we’re a good team.”
The game started well for the Turbos with two penalties to Otere Black saw them go out to a 0-6 lead. Both teams battled against the conditions with soft penalties coming from small mistakes early on.
At the quarter hour mark, Taranaki crossed the line through a classic forwards try. In what was a dominant display from the Taranaki forward pack, Reuben O’Neill crashed over and with a McKenzie conversion, the score was 7-6 to the Bulls.
As the conditions continued to test both teams, Manawatu did not capitalise while in Taranaki territory with penalties hurting their scoring opportunities.
In contrast to the consistent lineout from their last game the Turbos woes at the set piece creeped back in with Taranaki stealing or disrupting many of Manawatu’s lineouts.
Taranaki were in again through dynamic halfback Kylem O’Donnell, who skirted around an open blindside of the back of a strong lineout drive. McKenzie missed the kick to make the score 12-6 going into the last 10 minutes of the first half.
Manawatu finally found the try line through winger Ambrose Curtis, who dived over in the corner off the back of a great backline move to see the Turbos up by one. Penalties to both sides meant Manawatu went into the break 15-16 ahead in what was shaping up to be a tight finish.
The half time stats were telling enough with 10 turnovers conceded by the Turbos leading to just 34 percent possession. Their inability to hold onto the ball was going to make winning a difficulty.
The second half began with a hiss and a roar as both teams understood the importance of a good start. Manawatu were victim of a few soft penalties that commentators put down to the new rules concerning the breakdown.
Despite a good start, no further points were added until Latu Vaena went over in the corner for Taranaki after they stormed over a Manawatu ruck and capitalised on the quick turnover.
The try went unconverted but it meant the Bulls took a four-point lead. This was soon shortened back to one thanks to a tough penalty converted by Black. However, it was only a matter of time before Taranaki scored again and they did just that off the back of another lineout drive as hooker Rhys Marshall bagged himself a try.
A conversion and a penalty from McKenzie saw the score settle at 30-19 where it would stay until the final whistle. A bonus point try was denied by the referee as Callum Gibbins was adjudged to have knocked the ball on as he went to place the ball. Replays show that no such knock on occurred yet seeing as the whistle had sounded, nothing more could come of it.
Consistent issues with technical facets such as lineouts and handling are really hindering what is an exciting and free-flowing Manawatu side. As Gibbins says, they are a good team when these errors are limited, as seen through their upset of Canterbury in the week prior.
If the Turbos are to have any hope in stopping the likes of Otago for the Championship title, the rough edges of their game need to be addressed.
The next game is at home against Hawkes Bay, 7.35pm Saturday 1st October.
Taranaki: 30 (Reuben O’Neill, Kylem O’Donnell, Latu Vaena, Rhys Marshall tries; Marty McKenzie 2 cons, 2 pens)
Manawatu: 19 (Ambrose Curtis tries; Otere Black 1 cons, 4 pens)