Turbos Lose to Otago
It’s a waiting game for the Manawatu Turbos after they lost to top-of-the-table Otago by 21-14 in their final Mitre 10 Cup home match of the season on Friday night.
The result isn’t a fatal blow for the Turbos’ semi-final aspirations and grabbing a bonus point for losing within seven will have assisted the Turbos’ cause.
Starting hooker, Travis Taylor summed up the feeling in the Turbos camp after the match: ““The boys were going good guns in the second half, we were holding so many phases in their 22 but couldn’t convert. We were definitely after the win to get that confidence heading into the semis but now we just have to wait and see,” he said.
Manawatu are locked in a three-way battle with North Harbour and Bay of Plenty for the two remaining playoff spots. It is going to be a nervous 48 hours for Manawatu fans as all eyes will be on two crucial matches.
Firstly, late Saturday afternoon Manawatu will be hoping our neighbours Hawke’s Bay win against Bay of Plenty in the Battle of the Bay. Bay of Plenty will need a bonus point win to get level with the Turbos on the points table but will be ahead of the Turbos having beaten the Green and Whites in round-robin play.
Should BOP win with a bonus point then the focus will turn to North Harbour’s clash with Northland in Whangarei on Sunday afternoon. Harbour needs at least two competition points from the game to edge the Turbos out of the playoffs.
In the match tonight, it was Otago that made the early running and were rewarded when wing Tony Ensor scored in the ninth minute.
Otago were in for another five-pointer just minutes later when wing Matt Faddes latched onto the loose ball in the in goal after a great flick back pass from lock Adam Knight. Otago would have extended their lead if first five Scott Eade had his kicking boots on as he missed his second conversion and third kick of the night.
Ngani Laumape, playing on the wing, replied for the Turbos minutes later when he sprinted through and dived on a well-weighted Otere Black grubber kick. Black converted to make the score 10-7 to the visitors.
Otago grew in confidence as the half wore on and were rewarded with firstly a successful penalty to Eade and then minutes out from half time when their never-say-die attitude paid off. The visitors chased through a kick down field and when the Turbos couldn’t defuse the situation Adam Knight was on hand to score the visitors’ third try to make the score at the break, 18-7 to Otago.
While the possession stakes in the first half were even, it was Otago that constructed the better phases and took their opportunities when they were on offer.
Taylor said it was a simple message from the Turbos coaches at the half time break: “They (Otago) were scoring off our mistakes and once we start limiting our mistakes we will be able to apply pressure and score points.”
Manawatu started its super-sub after the half time break. All Black Aaron Cruden, who had been released from the national team to play his first game for the Turbos since 2014, replaced second five Hamish Northcott.
Cruden’s influence was immediate as the Turbos swung onto attack and camped in Otago’s half. However, try as they might, the home team struggled to break through the stout Otago defence which grew in confidence and ferocity as the half wore on.
Totally against the run of play, Otago managed to get into the Turbos’ half and were awarded a kickable penalty by referee Glen Jackson. Replacement kicker Gavin Stark stepped up and slotted the points to extend their lead to 21-7.
Finally, the pressure the Turbos had applied throughout the half began paying dividends as cracks started to appear in the Otago defence.
Cruden sent centre Jason Emery away on a scintalliating run and from the ensuing ruck replacement halfback Jamie Booth dotted down for a converted try.
The final five minutes were hectic with the TMO judging a Callum Gibbins’ dive at the line being held up and Otago were lucky not to have a man in the bin conceding several penalties just metres from their line.
With time nearly up and the Turbos hot on attack, handling errors proved fatal and Otago saw out the match to claim the win.
Otago 21 (Adam Knight, Tony Ensor, Matt Faddes tries; Scott Eade pen, Gavin Stark pen),
Turbos 14 (Ngani Laumape, Jamie Booth tries; Otere Black 2 cons),
HT: 18-7 Otago.