Turbos Beat Harbour
The Manawatu Turbos secured a vital last minute bonus point against North Harbour on Saturday night, to cap off a good 31-17 comeback win.
Heiden Bedwell-Curtis described the win as “Very satisfying. Just to bring the energy levels like we did, start well, and just to play really well as a team”. Playing the game at pace has been a strength of the Turbos all season, and they did their best to open the game up against Harbour. After losing Semisi Masirewa to injury last week, Ambrose Curtis stood up as the lethal attacking weapon, making some impressive long-range breaks. The hosts also gathered some early momentum, and had Harbour on the ropes for a good ten minute period. However, their dominant spells didn't result in any points, whereas Harbour capitalised on their chances. The visitors also excelled in the set piece battle, overpowering the Turbos' scrum, stealing their line-outs and putting them under pressure with the rolling maul.
A positive start from the Turbos should have resulted in the opening points, but the hosts' impressive and composed play came up short. They built phases well and dominated field position, but not for the first time this season, Otere Black missed a penalty. While it looked as though that wouldn't matter, it turned out it did, as the Turbos attempts to barge their way over from 5m line-outs proved ineffective.
Instead, Harbour were first on the board, nailing their own penalty during their first visit into the Turbos' half. Captain Bryn Hall couldn't land his second shot at goal after 20 minutes, but by then Harbour were well and truly on the front foot, and had the Turbos defence scrambling. Even when the Turbos did make their way back into Harbour's half, it was only a brief visit.
Some exciting breaks were as good as it got for the Turbos, though the same could be said for Harbour as well. Number 8 Chris Vui was looking ominous, tough to take down when charging about in the midfield, but mistakes plagued both sides. Handling errors, turnovers and penalties disrupted the flow the Turbos' had built early, and kept the first half scoring to a minimum.
However, there was at least a couple of tries to celebrate in the first spell. After being denied a try by the TMO, Harbour eventually crashed over through fullback Josh Rowland. One minute before the break, the Turbos responded via Fraser Stone, following some brilliant offloading from the backs. That left Harbour with a slender 10-7 lead at the break.
Within ten minutes of the restart, both teams had doubled their try tally. Matt McGahan was the first to cross the whitewash, but the Turbos hit back almost immediately. Nathan Tudreu showed his brute power and pace to set up a try for Callum Gibbins, but he wasn't the only Tudreu putting on a show. His brother Newton put the Turbos in front soon after, thanks to a pin-point cross kick from Black.
Line-outs cost the Turbos a lot of quality possession but the hosts were the ones stealing the majority of Harbour's ball, and making a typical comeback. Two quick tries put them in the lead for the first time after 55 minutes, and when Harbour were reduced to 14 men it looked as though the Turbos might pull away. However, the visitors' reserves added plenty of power from the bench, and kept Harbour in the game. It was the Turbos who held on though, Bedwell-Curtis picking out their defence as the key difference. “Defence, as they all say, wins games...we worked a lot on our defence during the week”. The hosts' 24 unanswered points ensured they keep pace with the other premiership sides striving to avoid relegation.
The Turbos weren't done their either, capitalizing on Harbour's frustration. Things got heated amongst the forwards, and Harbour took things a little too far when their prop dropped a shoulder in a ruck. He was sent to the sin bin, Black finally landed his first penalty goal of the year, and the Turbos led 24-17 with 15 minutes to play.
That was all the Turbos could accumulate while they had an extra man though, as Harbour dominated during that time. The visitors camped down in the Turbos' 22m, but they felt the pressure with the clock ticking down, and failed to score an all-important try. The Turbos searched for a match-clinching bonus point try, and with the hooter set to sound, Gibbins got his second, guaranteeing the victory and very important five competition points.
Bedwell-Curtis said that it would be nice to stay in the premiership, but all the boys are focusing on right now is their next match and final home game for the season, against Taranaki, where he said improving accuracy is key. “Pretty much just accuracy around defence and attack, and tidying up a few more things”. That match, their final home game of the season, is next Saturday evening.
Manawatu Turbos-31 (Callum Gibbins 2, Fraser Stone, Newton Tudreu tries; Otere Black 4 con, pen)
North Harbour-17 (Josh Rowland, Matt McGahan tries; Bryn Hall 2 con, pen)
Jordan Matthews – Turbos Reporter
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