Strong finish gives bonus point to Manawatu

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Saturday, July 16, 2011    Getty Images

The Turbos led 11-9 after a scrappy first half at FMG Stadium but the match came to life in the second spell as the lead changed hands several times and the tries eventually came.

It was a typical early season match punctuated by too many missed tackles and handling errors – many of them unforced.

While both teams showed a willingness to attack in the afternoon sunshine, the skills often did not match the endeavour, particularly in the first 40 minutes where penalty kicks dominated.

When the teams did manage to get some continuity the tries came. Manawatu halfback Smith got the ball rolling on the stroke of half-time and in the second spell Cama, Stone and Gosling got over for the Turbos, while Ryan McLeod and Sinoti Sinoti bagged five-pointers for the visitors.

Despite having less territory and possession in the opening 15 minutes it was the visitors who came away with points as Andrew Horrell punished Manawatu indiscretions at the breakdown in the 3rd and 13th minutes.

Aaron Cruden missed his first shot at goal but eventually levelled the scores with penalties on 17 and 33 minutes before Smith dived over for the game's opening try.

It was a well-worked move off the scrum which put Nehe Milne-Skudder in some space. His neat offload found Asaeli Tikoirotuma out on the wing and although his pass to Smith looked forward, the try was awarded by referee Richard Kelly.

Cruden could not add the extras and Manawatu were just two points ahead going into the break.

That lead was short-lived however, as Cruden missed another penalty attempt then McLeod rolled over to score the Magpies' opening try just six minutes after the restart.

Smith was caught napping at a ruck and Hika Elliot, who was typically industrious all game, stole the ball and took another 10 metres before popping the pass to Michael Coman to continue the attack.

Eventually the ball was hacked ahead by Tu Umaga-Marshall and when he could not regather McLeod pounced to score and Horrell added the extras.

But Manawatu responded. Cruden made another trademark run at the line and got around Bryn Evans before firing the ball out to Tikoirotuma out on the right flank. He looked to have put a foot in touch before firing the inside pass to Cama but again it was not picked up by the officials and the try was awarded. Cruden, the new Chiefs pivot, added the extras.

Again Hawke's Bay battled back to regain the lead with Elliot once more prominent with ball in hand before McLeod turned provider for his winger Sinoti. Horrell's conversion put the visitors 23-18 ahead with 20 minutes to go.

An excellent driving maul by the Turbos forwards earned the home side a five metre scrum. A series of pick and goes were kept at bay by the Magpies but when the ball was spun wide replacement Stone was put clean through. Cruden's conversion gave Manawatu a two-point lead which they doggedly hung on to until Gosling's bonus-point try a couple of minutes from full-time put the game beyond doubt.


Manawatu 32 (Aaron Smith, Tomasi Cama, Casey Stone, Hamish Gosling tries; Aaron Cruden 3 con 2 pen) Hawke's Bay 23 (Ryan McLeod, Sinoti Sinoti tries; Andrew Horrell 2 con 3 pen). HT: 11-9