IN­JURY CON­CERN

More pain for the Tur­bos

Manawatu Standard - - Front Page - SHAUN EADE

The Manawatu¯ Tur­bos are still wait­ing to find out the ex­tent of Otere Black’s knee in­jury, but he ap­pears un­likely to front against Hawke’s Bay on Sun­day.

Black left the field on the back of the med­i­cal cart just be­fore half­time in the side’s 46-25 loss to Taranaki on Wednesday night.

The first five-eighth was on crutches with ice strapped to his knee after the match.

The in­jury to the 22-year-old added fur­ther pain for the Tur­bos in their failed Ranfurly Shield chal­lenge, which has left them need­ing to beat Hawke’s Bay on Sun­day to con­trol their semi­fi­nal fate.

But while Black is a big loss, hav­ing the in-form Jade Te Rure on deck means they have a qual­ity re­place­ment at No 10.

Black’s in­jury looked to mark a hor­ror night for the Tur­bos.

He went down while prop

Michael Alaala­toa was still in the sin bin and just be­fore Taranaki bagged their fourth try of the first half to leave Manawatu¯ trail­ing 27-6 at half­time.

Coach Jeremy Cot­ter, who bravely joined the team just one day after the funeral of his mother, said he called for calm at half­time.

‘‘We spoke at half­time of keep­ing our com­po­sure and keep­ing our struc­ture. When you are 27-6 down, you can go into your shell. The boys needed to stick to­gether and I thought they did that.’’

Three sec­ond-half tries to Te Rure, Jamie Booth and Am­brose Cur­tis worked Manawatu¯ within nine points of Taranaki with six min­utes to play.

But as they chased the game, Taranaki took ad­van­tage with two late tries to blow out the score.

Cot­ter said mis­takes cost them at cru­cial times.

‘‘We were a lit­tle in­ac­cu­rate in the first half and did not quite put the pres­sure on them we needed to. We needed to make a few more tack­les.

‘‘We could not get that con­ti­nu­ity to­gether that we needed. We could not string mul­ti­ple phases to­gether with a cou­ple of dusty off­loads and in­ac­cu­ra­cies.’’

But he was proud of the way his side stayed in the fight.

‘‘You can’t fault the ef­fort. I am re­ally proud of the way we got back into con­tention.’’

The Tur­bos do not have long to dwell on the shield dis­ap­point­ment with a match against Hawke’s Bay in Napier on Sun­day.

‘‘The first thing is that we will as­sess how the boys are. We will need to pick them up.

‘‘They are pretty down, they

re­ally gave it a mas­sive ef­fort.

‘‘Hawke’s Bay have been strug­gling all year and they are prob­a­bly due for a good one. But if we want to chal­lenge for the cham­pi­onship,

we have to beat all com­ers.’’

Ev­ery­thing re­mains in play for Manawatu¯ from a home semi­fi­nal to miss­ing out on the playoffs com­pletely.

While Hawke’s Bay have been poor this sea­son, a look at Manawatu¯ ’s away record to the Mag­pies high­lights the mag­ni­tude of the chal­lenge they face.

The last time Manawatu¯ beat Hawke’s Bay away was in 1985, but that was in Hast­ings, where Hawke’s Bay reg­u­larly staged matches un­til the 1990s.

Sun­day’s match will be played in Napier and Manawatu¯ have not won there since 1955 – 62 years ago – and have had just four wins in 32 at­tempts.

PHOTO: PHOTOSPORT

Otere Black mo­ments after he went down with a knee in­jury late in the first half against Taranaki.

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