The Manawatu Turbos finished the season on a high note with a 38-26 win over Southland in Palmerston North on Sunday. The Turbos, with three All Blacks on deck, had too much fire power for their southern rivals scoring three tries in the first half and one in the second. While it was the All Blacks starring with ball in hand, it was fullback Sam Malcolm who impressed on defence.
Malcolm stood out with a series of courageous defence plays throughout the game which were arguably as valuable as any linebreak. The Turbos did not make fans wait long for the first points with Jackson Hemopo charging over for a a five-pointer within the first three minutes. Junior Laloifi looked to have scored their second, with the referee awarding the try but opting to go to the TMO just before Otere Black kicked the conversion where he found the Turbos wing had put a foot in touch. Not long later, Ngani Laumape spied a gap in the Southland backline and set up skipper Antonio Kiri Kiri for the try. But then Southland fought back with a try to prop Morgan Mitchell and then a second to James Wilson.
The Turbos came back to life just before halftime as Nehe Milner-Skudder set up Laumape for a try of his own. Lewis Ormond bagged the first try of the second half for Southland to level the scores. Then Antonio Kiri Kiri charged a kick and regathered for his second. Otere Black set Laumape up with his second try when he chipped a kick through inside the 22 as the Turbos kicked clear.
Southland pulled one try back through Lewis Ormond before Jade Te Rure pushed the Turbos clear with a penalty.
Manawatu Turbos 38 (Ngani Laumape 2, Antonio Kiri Kiri 2, Jackson Hemopo tries; Otere Back 5 con, Jade Te Rure pen) Southland 26 (Lewis Ormond 2, Morgan Mitchell, James Wilson; James Wilson 3) HT 21-14 Manawatu