Manawatu’s bid for the Ranfurly Shield has fallen short against Otago in Dunedin on Friday night.
In a match that was not without controversy, Manawatu launched plenty at Otago but ultimately came away empty-handed 37-20.
Otago appeared to get off lucky twice in the first half when Vilimoni Koroi escaped a yellow card for a tip tackle and then the same player bagged a late try after Otere Black was taken out in the defensive line.
Adam Boult was a constant threat with ball in hand for Manawatu. Koroi scored the first try of the match when he sprinted clear from an interception. But from there Manawatu dominated long periods of the first half. Liam Mitchell and Jackson Hemopo led the charge as Black set up a try for Jamie Booth.
Black was back in the spotlight again when he launched a perfect skip pass to Boult for his first Mitre 10 Cup try.
Otago fought back with a try to Jona Nareki and the final try of the half – the dubious second try of Koroi. The second half saw Manawatu show plenty of endeavour, but they went unrewarded aside from a Black penalty. Otago managed to cash in with two key tries which sunk the Turbos hopes through Koroi and Sio Tomkinson.
Manawatu chanced their arms on attack, but ultimately couldn’t find a way through the defence.
Manawatu 20 (Jamie Booth, Adam Boult; Otere Black 2 con, 2 pen) Otago 37 (Vilimoni Koroi 3, Jona Nareki, Sio Tomkinson tries; Josh Ioane 3 con, 2 pen) HT: 22-17 Otago