For Manawatu wing Craig Clare, a try-scorer and goalkicker at Okara Park last night, a feeling similar to last year's was back.
And that translated into an astonishing 33-20 dunking of the Northland Taniwha, only Manawatu's second win on the ground and the first was back in 1983, by 12-8.
The embarrassment of the missed tackles at Eden Park was purged, Clare's was one of those and it served as mighty motivation. Last night he just loved the big boys hoeing into their work and delivering concussion grenade tackles on the bewildered blues.
“It was good to watch the forwards from the back,” Clare said.
Northland's only answer was two consolation tries in the final seven minutes when the subs were on, frustrating but immaterial. Northlanders, so excited by their win away over Waikato, lamented their side playing second fiddle and an exodus began from the embankment midway through the second half.
“It could have been a long season for us otherwise,” Clare said. “We needed it pretty badly. It could be a definite turning point for us.”
Greenies can now advance on FMG Stadium on Sunday afternoon with cheery faces as the Turbos take on the free-ranging Tasman Makos. A loss last night and FMG might have resembled the deserted Albany Stadium on Tuesday.
This had to be the most complete away win in the Turbos' seven-year history, notably the first-half shut-out which had Northland in retreat. In the Turbos' previous five wins, they have had bigger scalps - Canterbury in 2008 and Wellington last year - but only once have they collected five points, in the end-of-season clash against Otago in 2010.
Everyone had written off Manawatu, except halfback Karl Bryson's mother who collected $50 for her $10 outlay.
The signs were there from the start. The forwards, led by locks Fraser Stone and Michael FitzGerald and hooker Rob Foreman, simply owned the ball and Junior Tomasi Cama, Callum Gibbins and Ma'afu Fia were stealing turnovers.
Northland passed up a shot at goal and got smashed in the subsequent lineout. And when prop Grant Polson drove over, he'd set a union record for taking 64 games to score his debut try, beating Manawatu president Terry Clare by one game.
And when centre Jason Emery slipped All Black Rene Ranger for his try, our negative thoughts were banished. Four other chances went begging, including Clare putting his little toe into touch; but his try was worth waiting for when Fia stole the ball, Clare called for Cama to kick and he took it on the full and was gone.
It might have taken more than an hour to get the fourth but Cama's kick into empty grass saw Foreman's grubber send George Tilsley over.
Northland had two men sent to the bin box, just as the Turbos had during the 77-8 hiding at Okara two years ago.
All eight starting forwards deserved mentions in dispatches. And hey, it wasn't perfect, defenders turning their backs on attackers and passes being tossed away, and Tilsley and Asaeli Tikoirotuma needing work on their aggression and tackling.
But the width of the attack had Northland having kittens, especially when Cama went wider than usual and Emery and Nehe Milner-Skudder attacked as did the solid Matenga Baker on debut. Bryson sensibly took the tackle or the gap, rather than set up an ambush.
Worryingly, Milner-Skudder injured a hamstring but Baker's ailment was only cramp.
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