Tur­bos charge past sink­ing Waikato

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - JOSEPH PEAR­SON

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.

GETTY IM­AGES

Manawatu’s Kurt Baker wres­tles for con­trol of the ball with Waikato full­back Zac Guild­ford in Hamil­ton yes­ter­day.

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