Turbos charge past sinking Waikato
Manawatu condemned Waikato to a third straight Mitre 10 Cup defeat and lifted their own finals hopes after winning 23-10 in Hamilton yesterday.
Conditions were dreadful at times because of sudden flashes of pouring rain but the sun shone when the motoring Turbos punished the lacklustre Mooloos.
Both desperately needed the win to lift their seasons after back to back defeats but awful, driving rain during the first half made this encounter a difficult watch.
Manawatu finished stronger and looked in more control despite the absence of key playmaker Otere Black due to illness.
Waikato, who lost fullback Zac Guildford to a hamstring injury, had started the season promisingly but defeats to championship sides Northland and now Manawatu makes reaching the premiership finals – for the first time since 2011 – all the more difficult.
Mooloos coach Sean Botherway couldn’t put his finger on what has gone wrong.
‘‘There were some positive moments but we never really wrestled control of that second half,’’ he said.
‘‘We don’t look as though we’re playing with a lot of confidence and it’s flowing through our game.’’
Manawatu had won one and lost three prior to the contest at FMG Stadium Waikato but the Turbos are now back on track and climb into the top four in the championship.
Waikato won 19-10 to defend the Ranfurly Shield against Manawatu last year in similar wet weather as players handled the ball like a bar of soap.
Possession was wasted again and again; initially by Manawatu who had more ball and territory during a forgettable opening 40 minutes.
Only Pita Ahki’s first Waikato try had troubled the scoreboard until Jade Te Rure’s penalty just before halftime opened Manawatu’s account. Inevitably a knock on ended the first half with the Mooloos 5-3 ahead.
Waikato’s forwards then rolled Manawatu, who coughed up possession after some bizarre errors, and replacement hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho crashed over after the break.
Guildford was forced off because of his hamstring injury in the attack that Taukei’aho scored from and Manawatu hit back when reserve halfback Jamie Booth cruised over to level the scores after an hour.
Harrison Brewer’s try then put Manawatu ahead for the first time as their scrum destroyed Waikato’s.
Two Te Rure penalties stretched the lead to 23-10 and Waikato just couldn’t drag themselves into contention as the resolute Turbos stood firm.
A bright day in Hamilton had quickly turned wet and wild as the heavens opened when Manawatu kicked off.
Manawatu’s Kurt Baker wrestles for control of the ball with Waikato fullback Zac Guildford in Hamilton yesterday.