Turbos Trample Northland
The Turbos scored their first win of the 2015 season in style on Sunday afternoon, thumping the Northland Taniwha 42-17 at The Boneyard.
Things looked ominous for the Turbos from the kick-off, when Northland won possession and went onto the offensive in Manawatu's half. However, from the opening minutes there was an obvious difference in the hosts' energy levels. Otere Black says the Turbos have tweaked their warm-ups in order to make better starts. “We try to get more bodies on bodies...so by the time we get to the game, we're ready to go.” The Turbos made their tackles, won vital turnovers, and were confident in their abilities with ball in hand. The backs run amok, the forwards drove their way up field with ease, and Northland simply had no answer. Black was one who certainly enjoyed being on the front foot. “The boys went forward, and it made it a lot easier for us in the backs to finish it off.”
As they watched the Turbos keep up with the clock in the first quarter, Northland appeared to think they had to play desperation rugby. Despite there being plenty of time left, the visitors starting making errors such as quick throws and brave attempts to run the ball from their own 22m. All that did, however, was allow the Turbos to dominate the game even more. Northland gained some much needed confidence just before and just after halftime with some valuable points, but even their best efforts were thwarted by a vastly improved Turbos outfit. Their defence in particular was far better than the efforts in the opening five matches, and with the attack firing on all cylinders thanks to the likes of Nathan Tudreu and Semisi Masirewa, there was never any real danger of the Green Machine losing this game.
Scoring tries hasn't troubled the Turbos this year, but all other parts of their game have needed some tweaks. Against Northland, they were fairly close to rectifying everything. Their set piece wa improved, with good decisions on attack and defence, and the reward at the end was a big first victory to keep them alive in the Premiership semi-final race.
For the first time this year, the Turbos were the ones to open the scoring. After surviving an early onslaught from Northland, the hosts turned down a shot at goal and made their way into the visitors' 22m. They have made scoring tries look easy all season long, and once they spun it wide, the in-form Masirewa dotted down for a 7-0 lead after three minutes.
With a wealth of territory and possession, the Turbos put Northland under pressure, and the hosts soon had their second try. Jason Emery produced a pin-point grubber for Tudreu to chase and force just centimetres from the dead ball line.
The Northland defence looked more like a cheese grater than anything else in the first 20 minutes, and for once it was the Turbos who were making a mockery of their opposition in the opening quarter. A pick-and-go try to Heiden Bedwell-Curtis completed by far their best start this season, as they lead 21-0. Northland had some reprieve from what seemed like endless pressure after the Turbos' third try, but struggled to find their way into the hosts' 22m.
The Turbos meanwhile maintained most of the momentum, and kept the crowd entertained with some scintillating running rugby. If there was one blot on their first half effort though, it was the number of turnovers they conceded, which halted numerous attacking chances. It also led to Northland's first try, scored via Dan Pryor right on halftime, to leave the Turbos leading 21-7 after 40 minutes.
Northland got the all-important score after halftime as well, although a penalty was all they could muster when the Turbos were guilty of trying to run the ball from their own 22m. Northland had their best ten minute period after halftime, but unlike the Turbos, the visitors didn't have much success in finding and exposing defensive holes.
The Turbos had their bonus point with 30 minutes still to play, when Tudreu scored his second try. The fleet-footed winger then set up another try just moments later with an impressive break. Michael Alaalatoa surged over, having been denied a try earlier in the game. Black nailed that coversion before he was subbed Northland pulled back a try in the 60th minute, but it was a rare spell of dominance from the Taniwha against the on-fire Turbos.
The Turbos had the luxury of bringing all of their reserves on for a prolonged run, and they weren't done with their try-scoring exploits just because of so many changes. Led by debutant Sam Malcolm the Turbos were soon in again. Valentino Mapapalangi took the hosts' try tally to six, and that was more than enough to see them secure a very comfortable victory.
The Turbos' next game is an away fixture against Southland in Invercargill next Saturday. Black acknowledged it will be a challenge, but one the Turbos are up for. “They're a good side this year, with Lima [Sopoaga] back there they're looking pretty sharp. So it will be a big challenge for us to go down there.”
Manawatu Turbos-42 (Nathan Tudreu 2, Semisi Masirewa, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Michael Alaalatoa, Valentino Mapapalangi tries; Otere Black 5 con; Sam Malcolm con)
Northland-17 (Dan Pryor, Dave Thomas tries; Dan Hawkins 2 con, pen)
#MANvNOR #TURBONATION #ITMCup