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Turbos tip up Taranaki

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Saturday, August 6, 2011    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

The home team failed to take full advantage of a strong tail wind in the first half, leading only 8-7 at the break against opponents seeking their fourth consecutive win. But the Turbos sealed their victory with the only try of the second half and some staunch defence to deny their higher-rated rivals.

They struggled for early possession, but whenever they got their hands on the ball, Manawatu punished any turnover with long clearance kicks deep into Taranaki territory. First-five Aaron Cruden capitalized on this positional dominance when he kicked a penalty to open the scoring in the 16th minute.

But the visitors persevered with the ball in hand, showing great patience to grind their way upfield around the fringes. Their efforts were rewarded in the 32nd minute when second-five Jayden Hayward crossed in the corner.

First five-eighth Beauden Barrett began the movement, slipping a miracle back-handed pass for centre George Pisi to surge up the right touchline. As the ball swept back across field, Hayward broke the defensive line, passed wide to wing Frazier Climo, and was on hand to take the return pass and dive over for the try.

The Turbos immediately struck back. Cruden got a foot on Barrett’s attempted grubber kick and flanker Doug Tietjens gathered the loose ball to rumble 40m for a try and an 8-7 halftime lead.

Still, with the prospect of the wind at their backs in the second half, Taranaki seemed to be in the driver’s seat, having amassed a 56-25 superiority in rucks and mauls over the opening 40 minutes.

Barrett used that breeze soon after the restart to put his side ahead with a long range penalty.

But Manawatu continued to pressure their guests. In the 61st minute, they stole a tighthead close to the Taranaki line, but flanker Scott Waldrom thwarted that opportunity by snaffling the ball back from an ensuing ruck.

Minutes later, winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma was not to be denied, accepting a slip pass from replacement Dan Kelly to cross wide. Cruden converted into the wind for a 15-10 lead.

From there, Manawatu simply tackled their hearts out to repeatedly repel their rivals. Taranaki had their last chance with a penalty and attacking lineout inside the final two minutes, but they botched their chance with a knock-on in midfield.

Manawatu 15 (D.Tietjens, A.Tikoirotuma tries; Cruden con, pen) beat Taranaki 10 (J.Hayward try; Barrett con, pen).