Youngs star as Evergreens beat Wellington
Manawatu’s young guns came to the fore as the Evergreens beat Wellington 47-40 in first preseason match of the season in Levin on Monday.
The 30-man Manawatu side showed plenty of encouraging signs as they claimed their first lead of the match in the 77th minute to take the win from the hands of Wellington.
It was especially impressive considering Manawatu had been trailing 26-5 after 20 minutes.
Fullback Ben Werthmuller played a starring role for Manawatu as he cut loose in the second 20 minutes of the first half.
Werthmuller played a key role in each of the first three tries with a big line break eventually setting up try one, a well-timed pass setting up try two, before he darted across for a try of his own.
Early in match Manawatu were caught short out wide and struggled at scrum time.
But as the half wore on, the experienced heads started to take control of the game with Fraser Stone, Ben Wyness, Nick Crosswell and Rhys Pedersen among those to stand out in the first half.
And Manawatu continued its roll in the second half as some of the union’s academy players stole the limelight.
Josiah Maraku and Stewart Cruden turned on some brilliant touches, with Te Rangatira Waitokia cashing in with a brace of tries.
Hooker Nick Grogan was strong up front and prop Atonio Walker-Leawere impressed in limited minutes.
The Cruden to Waitokia connection locked up the scores at 40-40 late in the second half.
The final try came from a solid scrum platform with Cruden chipping the ball over the defensive line for the flying Drew Wild to scoop up and score the winner.
Manawatu’s next preseason match will be against Hawke’s Bay in Napier on July 3.
Manawatu Evergreens 47 (Te Rangatira Waitokia 2, Ben Werthmuller, Drew Wild, Adam Boult, Awatere Kiwara, Regan Sword tries; Ben Wyness 3 con, Boult 2 con, Stewart Cruden con) Wellington 40 (Nash Fiso 2, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Trent Renata, Sam Smith, Fereti Soloa tries; Renata 4 con, Piri Paraone con). HT: 21-33.