Otago too strong at home for Turbos

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Saturday, September 2, 2017    Ben Fawkes    Getty Images

The Turbos boasted a backline featuring All Blacks Ngani Laumape and Nehe Milner-Skudder, but it was the unheralded Otago backs, led by man of the match Vilimoni Koroi and left wing Jona Nareki, who grabbed a hat trick, who showed the better enterprise and willingness to run with the ball.


Manawatu dominated much of the first half, taking a seven point lead into halftime and initially appeared to be the more composed of the two sides.
The home side often seemed anxious in possession, and a number of promising moves were stymied by poor decision making by players under pressure or when going into contact.

First-five eighths Otere Black and Josh Ioane traded penalties in the opening ten minutes, before Otago halfback Jonathan Ruru scored the game’s opening try after 17 minutes, burrowing over the line to finish off a sequence of play started by a line break from lock Josh Dickson.

The try seemed to invigorate Manawatu, who punished Otago for failing to secure the kickoff. 

A period of sustained pressure inside the Otago 22 created a half gap for Laumape to barge through, bouncing off the tackle of Ioane to give Manwatu the lead.

The first half then finished with a flurry of scoring.

Nareki crossed for his first in the 31st minute, after Koroi punished a poor Manawatu kick chase to link with second five-eighth Teihorangi Walden, who was dragged down metres from the line by a high tackle from Turbos’ fullback Kurt Baker.

Under penalty advantage, Ioane picked out his winger with a perfect cross-field kick for Nareki to score in the opposite corner.

However Otago failed to secure possession from the kick off, immediately allowing Manawatu to attack again.

Black leveled the scores with his second penalty, before on the stroke of halftime the Turbos were rewarded for opting to turn down a kickable penalty and attacking the corner.

Jackson Hemopo busted through the middle of the resulting lineout, to give the visitors back the lead at the break.

However it was a different Otago team that emerged in the second half.
Lead by captain Sam Anderson-Heather, in his 50th match for the province, the home forwards dominated possession and territory, creating a strong platform for their backs.

Twelve minutes in Koroi provided the spark, injecting himself perfectly into the line, drawing the outside defenders and firing a perfect pass for right wing Mitchell Scott to finish, the unconverted try closing the gap to two points.
Six minutes later, Otago was in again, Anderson-Heather driving over from close range and putting his team back in front.

But another poor kick off return saw Manawatu immediately wrest back the lead, Hemopo and reserve back Lewis Marshall combining superbly to set up replacement halfback Jamie Booth.

The lead was short-lived, a superb ball from Walden putting Nareki in to score down the left wing.

Nareki then completed his hat trick four minutes later, carving through the Manawatu midfield to score near the posts, and with that seal the win.
Manawatu had their chances in the final ten minutes, a Jade Te Rure penalty closing them to within seven points at one stage. 

But, chasing the game, the Turbos were unable to put enough phases together to threaten, before a penalty to replacement first-five Fletcher Smith restored Otago’s ten-point lead in the closing minutes.

Otago 40 (Nareki 3, Ruru, Anderson-Heather, Scott tries, Ioane pen, Smith pen, 2 con. Manawatu 30 (Laumape, Hemopo, Booth tries, Black, 2 pen, 3 con, Te Rure pen)