Turbos run Lions ragged in Palmerston North

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016    Getty Images

The Turbos season was at a crossroads tonight. A loss would see them in danger of missing the playoffs while a victory would push them into third place on the Championship ladder. In front of a small but loud home crowd, blindside flanker Antonio Kiri Kiri crossed for four tries as Manawatu got all facets of their game firing to thump a lethargic looking Lions side. Despite the loss, the Lions remain in clear second place and will likely stay in the top two in the Championship with two games remaining.

After dominating the opening ten minutes, Manawatu crossed when fullback Ambrose Curtis hurt his former side by cutting through the Lions defence and setting up Jason Emery for the opening try.

Despite playing with little ball in the opening quarter, the Lions took advantage of their one opportunity in the Turbos half when captain Brad Shields caught the Turbos defence napping with a quick tap to put wing Wes Goosen over.

From there it was to be blindside flanker Antonio Kiri Kiri’s day as he crossed for two tries in either half to secure the big win for the Turbos.

Up 17-7 at halftime, Manawatu came firing out of the sheds with two tries straight from the set piece. The first came from a solid scrum close to the line with Kiri Kiri crossing for his third before prop Chris Eves barged over from a lineout drive to make it 29-7.

With plenty of time left on the clock, Wellington used their big forward ball runners well up the middle to cross for three tries and secure a four try bonus point.

But it was the Lions defence that let them down as they fell off tackles around the ruck area and were exposed by the play making ability of first five-eighth Otere Black. It was Black who provided the play of the game when he executed a flat kick in behind the Wellington defence to put Jason Emery over for his second.

The exclamation mark was put on the game when Kiri Kiri secured his fourth try from a pushover scrum five metres from the Lions line. It was a fitting way for the Turbos to finish with their set piece laying the foundation for a crucial victory.

Manawatu’s 50 points are the most they have scored against Wellington since the unions began playing in 1887 while the Lions have now not beaten the Turbos since 2013.

Manawatu captain Callum Gibbins said: “We are pretty wrapped with that. We needed to get some points tonight to keep our season alive. Wellington are a great team and we were disappointed with our performance against Hawke’s Bay last week so we are happy about tonight and need to carry it on.”

Manawatu 50 (Jason Emery 2, Antonio Kiri Kiri 4, Chris Eves, Callum Gibbins tries, Otere Black 5 con) Wellington 28 (Wes Goosen, Hoani Matenga, Jason Woodward, Galu Taufele tries, Jackson Garden-Bachop 4 con)
HT: 17-7

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