Turbos Topple Canterbury in Dominant Performance
A last minute try secured an incredible upset for the Turbos against Canterbury, 19-13.
Palmerston North was treated to a phenomenal exhibition of rugby as the Turbos triumphed over the Premiership frontrunners, Canterbury at Central Energy Trust Arena on Saturday.
Canterbury were clear favourites going into this game however, they were met with stiff resistance from the Turbos which lead to just two tries being scored in the game.
The Turbos performed extraordinary throughout the game, often getting the better of their southern opponents but through a combination of sub-par execution and excellent Canterbury defence, they were try-less for much of the game.
The eventual winning play came in the 79th minute where a kick through over the Canterbury try line wasn’t sufficiently forced down by the retreating Cantab, to which Turbo lock Jackson Hemopo took full advantage and scored the try.
Executioner of that kick and standout fullback Jason Emery was understandably enthused after the final whistle had sounded. “To beat a team like Canterbury, I’m so rapped at the moment.”
The way the Turbos stood up against Canterbury was key for Emery. “You can look at it two ways if you play Canterbury you can either back down or stand up and fight them so I thought we had done that.”
Going into the half three points ahead, Emery said the continuity of performance was vital. “We just said there’s 40 minutes to go, let’s not button off here.”
He commended the entire team in their efforts and speculates what a win like this will do to the team’s morale. “It was 1-23 tonight and if we did that every week, we’d go a long way to getting back into the Premiership and who knows what will happen.”
“The boys are pumped, we prepared really well and it just shows we can turn up on the day and beat anyone, it’s good confidence to take from it.”
Canterbury started the game well with a clean, efficient style of play we are so used to seeing. Manawatu, not wanting to be out done, came out very physical, so much so that a few ‘how do you do’s’ were being handed out between the players early on in the match.
After 10 minutes, Otere Black nailed a kick from long range to get the game going. Canterbury’s penalty count was rising steadily as Manawatu’s physicality and line speed was disrupting any momentum Canterbury could create.
Standout player and future star, Jordie Barrett was threatening for Canterbury. His dominance in the air and speed of play was difficult for Manawatu to handle. However, as a unit, Canterbury seemed rattled by Manawatu’s style of play, not converting on their dominance in possession.
In the last 20 of the first half, Manawatu saw plenty of chances to extend their lead. By 34 minutes it was 6-6 only after Manawatu let time in the Canterbury 22 go begging as they couldn’t seem to hold their composure in order to get over the line.
As half time rolled around, Manawatu were up 9-6 after dominating time in opposition half and forcing multiple penalties out of a shell-shocked Canterbury outfit. Despite their efficiency at the set piece, Canterbury couldn’t cope with the intensity the Turbos were bringing in general play.
Just as with the first half, Manawatu came out firing on all cylinders, maintain defensive pressure on Canterbury, not letting them settle into their work.
It wasn’t until the 61st minute when the first try was scored. Through a weaving run from Jordie Barrett, Canterbury were able to dive over in the corner in the form of George Bridge to take the lead, 13-9.
A Otere Black penalty got it back to 13-12 but with only minutes on the clock, it was going to take something special to beat this Canterbury team.
That something special came with two minutes left in the game. A grubber kick stabbed through by Jason Emery wasn’t dealt with by Canterbury defence and big Jackson Hemopo dived on the ball to secure the win and round out a big work load from the young lock.
What made this game a spectacle is that neither side performed badly. It was 80 minutes of complete class from both teams and was a joy to watch.
Turbos challenged Canterbury in every facet of the game, something teams have not been able to do all season. This season has been tainted by disappointing second halves by the Turbos but this game definitely bucked the trend.
It was summed up quite nicely at half time by Turbos coach, Jeremy Cotter, who said that; “It’s about attitude over technique.” Manawatu had the desire to beat the unbeatable and by sheer determination and will power, they achieved it.
They’ll need to rise to the occasion again as they take on Taranaki away from home next week.
Manawatu: 19 (Jackson Hemopo tries; Otere Black 1 con, 4 pens).
Canterbury: 13 (George Bridge tries; Richie Mo’unga 1 con, 2 pens).
Adam Pearse: Turbos Reporter