A late try to wing Newton Tudreu has seen Manawatu beat a Wellington XV 29-28 at the Hutt Recreation Ground today.
Tudreu's second try came with just three minutes to go and the home side seemingly headed for a preseason win with a strong wind at their backs.
That script changed when Turbos centre Jason Emery identified a mismatch and side stepped Wellington prop Tolu Fahamokioa from deep in his own territory.
Tudreu capped a strong match by fending his way past Hurricanes loose forward Brad Shields to dive over out wide and give his side a one point lead.
Though Wellington were not at full strength the win will provide a timely boost for Manawatu two weeks before the start of the national provincial championships.
They outscored the Wellington selection five tries to four and held onto a 19-14 lead into a stiff wind and against a side featuring returning All Black centre Conrad Smith in the second half.
Smith got through 40 uneventful minutes in his first match since he broke a thumb during the second test against England in Dunedin with 10 minutes to play.
The loss aside there were some bright spots for Wellington coach Chris Boyd with the first half halves combination of Jared Kahu and Riki Flutey gelling well.
Fahamokoia and young lock Christian Lloyd were the pick of a hard working pack into the breeze, while blindside Vaea Fifita capped a strong match with a brilliant late individual try before limping off with a leg injury.
For Manawatu, prop Chris Eves stood out as a ball runner, while Nick Crosswell provided some physicality late in the match.
Tudreu and fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder both showed their class while first five eighth Jade Te Rure provided some second half spark after replacing Otere Black.
Manawatu got the first try of the match inside five minutes when Tudreu scored, but the visitor's would see little of the ball over the next 30 minutes.
Wellington's pack excelled into a strong wind with Lloyd, Fahamokioa and hooker Leni Apisai doing much of the donkey work.
Kahu was assured behind the ruck and passed his runners into gaps and Flutey was an energetic figure outside his Petone club mate.
Hard work paid dividends on 13 minutes when Flutey dummied into space then held up a nice pass for centre Matt Proctor for Wellington to take a 7-5 lead.
After Kahu put prop Eric Sione into the clear, wing Belgium Tuatagaloa scooted over after riskily ignoring about four unmarked teammates outside him.
Manawatu finally saw some ball in the final 10 minutes of the half with hooker Rob Foreman benefiting from some sharp draw and pass and blindside Heiden Bedwell-Curtis some strong pick and go from the pack to give his side a 19-14 lead at the break.
Kaipati Gaualofa gave Wellington the lead 21-19 after the restart, but Flutey's replacement Jackson Garden-Bachop struggled to control play with the wind at his back.
Milner-Skudder finished off Te Rure's break as the lead changed again before Fifita's angled 30 metre dash appeared to decide the result with 10 to play.
Manawatu 29 (Newton Tudreu 2, Rob Foreman, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Nehe Milner-Skudder tries, Otere Black 2 cons) Wellington 28 (Matt Proctor, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Kaipati Gaualofa, Vaea Fifita tries, Jared Kahu 2 cons, Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 cons). HT: 19-14.
- The Dominion Post
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