The Manawatu Turbos pulled off a great southern escape as they beat Southland 31-26 in round six of the Mitre 10 Cup in Invercargill on Saturday.
The Turbos were trailing 26-7 at halftime and looked to be in all kinds of trouble with the Stags firing on all cylinders.
But a second half revival, led by two tries from Ngani Laumape and a flawless goalkicking display from Otere Black, helped them score 24-unanswered points in the second half to claim the win.
Right from the opening whistle, Southland had Manawatu under pressure, and they were quick to convert that into points when hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate scored in the fifth minute.
They were back in for a try to Lewis Ormond in the 15th minute as they stretched the Turbos out wide.
Hamish Northcott finally got some go-forward for Manawatu and with the Southland defence fractured, Brayden Iose capitalised by carving through the defence for a try.
But Southland bounced back, first when Logan Crowley scooted over from a wheeling scrum and then another as Ray Nu’u finished off a beautifully worked lineout move.
With a 19-point deficit, Manawatu had all the work to do in the second half.
From the kickoff of the second half, Manawatu looked to have a more aggressive approach to the breakdown and were doing a better job of getting the ball in the hands of Laumape.
Six minutes into the half Laumape broke the line and after a nice intercghange with Jamie Booth, crossed for the try.
Ten minutes later the midfielder was back in the action when Manawatu were quick to pass the ball to where he was stationed on the right wing. After an initial bobble of the ball, Laumape turned on the pace, chip kicked over the fullback and regathered for the try.
With 15 minutes to play the Turbos were hot on attack again and a beautifully placed Black cross field kick put Rhys Pedersen away for his first career try.
Black landed the conversion to give the side their first lead of the game.
A late penalty from Black extended the Turbos’ lead to five points as they closed out the win.
Manawatu 31 (Ngani Laumape 2, Brayden Iose, Rhys Pedersen tries; Otere Black 4 con, pen) Southland 26 (Greg Pleasants-Tate, Lewis Ormond, Logan Crowley, Ray Nu’u tries; Marty McKenzie 3 con) HT: 26-7 Southland