Turbos Taken Down by Canterbury
Canterbury caught the Turbos napping in Palmerston North on Thursday evening, as a dominant first half effort helped them to a 57-7 win.
It was always going to be a tough game against perennial premiership contenders Canterbury, but at home, at The Boneyard which has been a fortress of late, the Turbos were expected to put up a challenge. Instead, the hosts were down three tries in ten minutes, were spending most of the game in their own half, and their tackling was poor to say the least. They were forced to kick most of their possession away in order to try and garner an advantage in the territorial stakes, but aimless kicking let them down. Coach Jason O'Halloran summed up his side's efforts quickly, and he clearly wasn't happy. “It's Embarrasing. We had poor tackling, we were beaten on the kick chase. I think there's a lot more character in the boys than this.” His frustration saw him make changes to his team very early, including at halfback. Jamie Booth replaced Kayne Hammington, and added some much-needed spark to the Turbos' attack, which included setting up their first try.
That attacking intent carried on into the second half, when Jason Emery showed how dangerous the Turbos can be when they play as well as everyone knows they can. They were hampered, however, by a stuttering second half. With a number of changes made to both sides, momentum stalled, as scrums and injuries made for a stop-start affair. They built phases well, and made the most of Canterbury errors, but there was almost always a tough call or sensational tackle from Canterbury which denied the Turbos any more points. The Turbos held Canterbury to just 12 points in the second spell, but it was little consolation after an embarrassing defeat.
Deja-vu set in early for the Turbos, when Marhsall Suckling dotted down after barely one minute of play. Canterbury got the benefit of a lucky bounce in the in-goal and Marshall Suckling opened the scoring. Two minutes later their lead was extended to 12-0, when Johnny McNichol, who had created the first try, burst through another hole to put Mitchell Drummond over next to the posts.
About one minute of possession was all the Turbos could muster before they conceded a penalty, and a third try courtesy of a driving maul from the visitors. The Red and Black machine could have had the bonus point try after ten minutes but for a knock-on, which the Turbos would like to think they forced.
While Canterbury kept the pressure firmly on the Turbos, the hosts at least showed some vigour in defence, and deservedly won some turnovers by overpowering Canterbury's pack. However, it was only a matter of time until Canterbury found another breakthrough, and after 20 minutes, Dominic Bird got the bonus point try.
It seemed like there was simply nothing the Turbos could do to get their hands on the ball. That being said, they weren't helping themselves with their porous tackling, and silly penalties. They finally rediscovered their attacking touch just before halftime to score a try, but prior to that two more tries from Canterbury had the visitors leading 38-7 after 40 minutes the Turbos would rather forget.
O'Halloran rang the changes early in the second half, particularly amongst the forwards. There was an immediate difference as the Turbos competed and at times dominated at the breakdown, giving the backs more too strut their stuff. However, such was the Turbos' night, they were denied a second try after a controversial touch-judge call.
Until the 60th minute, the Turbos were looking good, and had the best of the second half. Their attack fired on occasion, and for the most part, they had cleaned up their defence and were making their tackles. If only it had been like that all game. Instead, they fell back into old habits, and Suckling skipped through all to easily for his second try.
As the dew set in on the FMG Stadium turf, the errors simply mounted. Canterbury made just as many as Manawatu, but the Turbos simply couldn't find a way out of their own half. A few half breaks didn't reap any rewards, whereas the bounce of the ball continually fell in Canterbury's favour – literally. Their final two tries came from kicks which bounced kindly, as the Red and Blacks finished off the game in style.
Canterbury-57 (Rob Thompson 3, Marshall Suckling 2, Mitchell Drummond, Dominic Bird, Ben Funnell, Johnny McNichol tries; Tom Taylor 7 con)
Manawatu Turbos-7 (Fraser Stone try; Otere Black con)