Turbos Tear through Lacklustre Lions
Antonio Kiri Kiri scores four as Manawatu win 50-28 in dominant match against Wellington.
It was the Antonio Kirikiri show at Central Energy Trust Arena on Wednesday night as Manawatu put eight tries past an unfortunate Wellington outfit.
The Turbos flanker was the benefactor of some great moves by the Manawatu midfield as well as great individual moves from Kiri Kiri himself.
Manawatu looked threatening from the get-go as they broke through Wellington’s defensive line on multiple occasions. Their defence proved too good at crucial times as they denied Wellington forming any momentum.
To their credit, Wellington ran well when they had the ball but Manawatu were too dominant in the majority of the game. A great start to the second half for Manawatu was an important facet of tonight’s game, allowing them to capitalise early.
The star of the game, Antonio Kiri Kiri says his four try scalp was thanks to his teammates around him. “I’d never imagine I’d score four tries in this game but I think most of them was right place right time so I better go in the sheds and thank my teammates.”
Kiri Kiri lauded the mental strength of the Turbos as a key factor in their victory. “We just knew it was a mental game for us. On our day we can beat anyone and today we showed that. We knew we just had to turn up and win the mental battle, and we did that. Couple new faces in the lineout and they had something to prove and the boys got up.”
In a game that saw Manawatu’s highest tally against Wellington, Kiri Kiri is quick to deflect the praise. “It does mean a lot but if you compare that to previous years with the new rules. These new rules allow for more points. But 50 points in a game, we’ll take it. It’s awesome.”
Looking forward to the next game, Kiri Kiri says recovery will be an important focus. “I think we’ll have a real focus on keeping the players fit and recovering and again it’s a big mental battle and they are the ones that can overtake us. It pretty much comes down to this game for us, in a way it’s a quarter final so we’ve really got to step up again.”
The game started well for Manawatu in a windy evening in Palmerston North. By ten minutes, Ambrose Curtis broke through the line with a fantastic run and offloaded to centre Jason Emery to score the first try of the game.
The conversion was missed by usual sharpshooter, Otere Black but Wellington were next to strike as a quick tap from Brad Shields caught the Turbos on the back foot and scoring machine Wes Goosen went over to make it even. Jackson Garden-Bachop added the extras to make it 5-7 after 17 minutes.
Six minutes later a penalty a fair way out was given to Manawatu. Captain Callum Gibbins opted to kick in the corner. The risk paid off as Antonio Kirikiri went in for his first in the corner after some quick hands from second-five Hamish Northcott.
This was converted by Black as Wellington went on the offensive. The Lions made some good inroads into the Manawatu defence. However, a quarter of an hour later, a great run from Black set up Kirikiri for his second. Black missed a tough conversion as the teams went into the sheds, the score line 17-7 in favour of the Turbos.
The halftime stats were fairly even apart from time in opposition 22. Manawatu had nearly triple that of Wellington and their territory to points conversion rate was plenty superior. Both team’s backlines were working well but Manawatu were making more use of their possession.
Traditionally slow starters to the second half, Manawatu put an end to that with two tries in the first five minutes. Kirikiri grabbed his hat trick through a good forward’s try with multiple phases until the flanker pushed himself over the line.
Minutes later, after a lineout just five metres from the line, Chris Eves crashed over the line and with a missed conversion, the score was 29-7 at the 45th minute.
It was time for Wellington to hit back with a try through Hoani Matenga. The try was converted in the 53rd minute and made it 29-14. Manawatu countered with one of the greatest tries of the season. Otere Black put a very deft kick in for Emery to chase onto, grabbing the ball on the full and diving over the line. Black converted the try and Manawatu were up to 36-14.
Wellington winger, Jason Woodward gave the Lions some hope as he scored a great solo try down the right hand side to make the score 36-21. With 15 minutes to go, the game was poised to finish well if Wellington were to turn on the after-burners.
Turbos captain, Callum Gibbins decided to take the game into his own hands powering over near the posts to push the lead out to 43-21. This was followed by a yellow card to Wellington’s Sam Lousi in the 71st minute after one too many infractions.
Going into the last ten minutes, Manawatu were playing with their tails up. Replacement midfielder, Ngani Laumape was more of a battering ram as he bruised the Wellington defence.
With five to go, Kirikiri put a final stamp of authority on the game as he controlled the ball at the back of the scrum and dove over to grab a fourth try. This was converted to make the score 50-21.
Wellington scored a consolation try towards the end of the match through Galu Taufale. The game finished with a Sam Malcolm clearance and the score finished as 50-28.
A resounding win for Manawatu after a shock loss to Hawkes Bay. This will be great rolling on to an important and possible future semi-final contender in Bay of Plenty.
Manawatu 50: (Antonio Kirikiri 4, Jason Emery 2, Chris Eves, Callum Gibbins tries; Otere Black 5 cons).
Wellington 28: (Wes Goosen, Hoani Matenga, Jason Woodward, Galu Taufale tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 4 cons).
Turbos Reporter: Adam Pearse