Wellington edge Manawatu in see-saw battle
Sunday, August 20, 2017 allblacks.com Getty Images
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A lot of the pre-match focus was on the clash between 2015 Rugby World Cup winners Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea. While both players had their moments and got their name on the score sheet, it was young Wellington front-rowers Asafo Aumua and Alex Fidow who were even more influential. The dynamic pair showed ball-running and playmaking skill not normally associated with front rowers to keep the Manawatu to defence on constant notice.
Both teams like to play expansive rugby and a high-scoring encounter looked likely from the opening minute when Wellington halfback Sheridan Ranguhuna crossed on the back of a Julian Savea break.
A try-fest beckoned when Kenyan sevens star Willy Ambaka scored on his first touch for Manawatu following a superb skip pass from Otere Black.
The teams exchanged tries regularly for the rest of the half as Wellington went into the break leading 26-22.
Julian Savea had been relatively quiet on the right wing but showed he is still a sublime finisher by crashing over out wide as the Lions snatched the lead back.
With fifteen minutes to play, Wellington weren’t in the mood to give Manawatu a sniff and added a penalty to Dan Kirkpatrick and late try to Malo Tuitama to secure the impressive victory.
Manawatu 29 (Willy Ambaka, Curtis Reid, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Jackso Hemopo, Jade Te Ruru tries, Otere Black 2 con) Wellington 41 (Sheridan Rangihuna, Alex Fidow, Trent Renata, Julian Savea, Malo Tuitama tries, Jackson Garden-Bachop try, 4 con, Kirkpatrick pen)
FT | The opening round of the #Mitre10Cup has ended with a thrilling win to @WgtnRugby over @ManawatuTurbos in Palmerston North. #MANvWEL pic.twitter.com/Z4iUT1p7Av— Mitre10 Cup (@Mitre10Cup) August 20, 2017
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