Turbos comeback sinks Mooloo men

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Saturday, August 18, 2018    Getty Images

After being relegated from the Premiership last year, Waikato were out to make a statement in Palmerston North and did just that with two tries in the opening 8 minutes to stun the Turbos early in the first half.


The first was scored by one of their main weapons in wing Sevu Reece who went over following some slick hands. Hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho benefited a few minutes later on the back of a well-coordinated forward drive to make it 12-0 to Waikato as the home fans were still finding their seats in the stands.

Waikato continued to dominate possession and territory in the first half, forcing the Turbos into racking up a big number of tackles to ensure the deficit remained at 12 points. The Mooloos could have been further up but a combination of scrambling Turbos defence and lack of composure kept the score at 12-0 for a long period.

Despite boasting a number of game-breakers in their backline, Manawatu looked ineffective with ball in hand for the majority of the first half until fullback Junior Laloifi provided the much-needed spark in the 37th minute.

Nicknamed the ‘Prince of Pace’, the 23-year-old Queensland Reds import showed just why by scything through the Waikato defence in midfield and scorching away for a try from 50 metres out.

The Turbos desperately needed something to get them going, and Laloifi’s try was just the tonic they needed on halftime to make it 5-12 at the break.

With a number of strong injections from the bench, Manawatu displayed more energy and direction in the second half and took the lead through tries to reserve prop Faalelei Sione and classy midfielder Rob Thompson.

But just as it looked like the home-side were going to take complete control, Waikato laid on a brilliantly worked team try to Declan O’Donnell to tie up the game 19-19 with 15 minutes to play.

Manawatu broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion with a try that seemed to feature every Turbos player on the park and ended with Laloifi grabbing his double in the corner.

Waikato tried hard in the closing minutes to snatch a victory but the Turbos defence held firm to cling on for the crucial bonus point 24-19 win.

Manawatu now turn their attention to a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Taranaki next week while Waikato are at home to North Harbour.

Manawatu 24 (Junior Laloifi 2, Faalelei Sione, Rob Thompson tries, Sam Malcolm 2 con) Waikato 19 (Sevu Reece, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Declan O’Donnell tries, Fletcher Smith 2 con)
HT: 5-12