Victorious Hawke's Bay promoted
Sunday, September 4, 2011 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
It was not the result the Turbos wanted for departing coach Dave Rennie – and it also ended their perfect run at FMG Stadium this season - but Hawke's Bay were well worth the win as they scored some excellent tries and scrambled desperately in the final few minutes to hang on for the win.
Tua Saseve, Richard Buckman and Tino Nemani got tries in the first half for the visitors with Sinoti Sinoti adding a fourth early in the second spell, which proved to be the difference.
Andrew Horrell and Aaron Cruden went kick for kick with both slotting three conversions and three penalties.
Manawatu trailed just 22-17 at the break thanks to tries for Doug Tietjens and Frankie Bryant but they looked down and out midway through the second half after Horrell had kicked the Magpies to a 35-23 lead.
But a 72nd minute try to Michael Fitzgerald gave the home side some hope and set up a grandstand finish.
The match was a stark contrast to Canterbury's grinding win against Waikato in the premiership final on Saturday night.
It was a free-flowing game at FMG Stadium with five tries scored in the first 40 minutes alone.
Both teams were off the mark inside the opening 13 minutes, although the tries were scored in contrasting styles.
Hawke's Bay showed huge patience in a 19-phase build-up before Saseve spun out of a tackle and raced over the line to score.
Manawatu's opener was the result of quick ball through the back line and a good break from Aseli Tikoirotuma who then sent the try-scoring pass out to loose forward Tietjens lurking out on the wing.
Tikoirotuma got over the advantage line virtually every time he touched the ball and had the bounce of the ball been kinder from his kick in field the home side could have been further ahead than 10-7 in the opening quarter.
But the rub of the green went the Magpies way in the 27th minute when Buckman chased an innocuous kick-through from Chris Eaton. The bounce defeated Nehe Milne-Skudder and Buckman gathered, stepped the defender and slid over.
Four minutes later and the visitors were over the whitewash again after Manawatu coughed up a turnover and Nemani made them pay.
Hikairo Forbes made the initial break then the ball was recycled well before the ball was spun wide out to Nemani who went over in the corner.
Horrell then added a penalty to two earlier conversions and the visitors were 22-10 up and seemingly cruising.
But Manawatu have fought hard all season and dug deep in the closing minutes of the half to get back to within five points on the stroke of half-time.
A nothing kick from Magpies pivot Daniel Kirkpatrick gave away precious possession and the Turbos made the most of it with Cruden hauled down just short of the line before Bryant barged over.
A second successful penalty kick from Cruden reduced the margin to two points just minutes after the re-start but the Magpies responded with their fourth try, although there was a hint of a forward pass in the build-up.
A great run by Kirkpatrick opened up the defence and when he was finally reined in it was his pass to Eaton that was questionable.
But play continued, Eaton was hauled down just short of the line and Sinoti picked up from the back of the ruck and dotted down in the corner and Horrell curled the conversion over to put the visitors 29-20 ahead.
Cruden and Horrell exchanged penalties which increased Hawke's Bay's lead to 35-23 before Fitzgerald's try from close range set up a thrilling final few minutes.
Hawke's Bay 35 (T.Saseve, R.Buckman, T.Nemani, S.Sinoti tries; A.Horrell 3 cons, 3 pens) Manawatu 30 (D.Tietjens, F.Bryant, M.Fitzgerald tries; A.Cruden 3 cons, 3 pens) HT: 22-17
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