Turbos make it three out of four
Forget their bloopers against Bay of Plenty last night, for only the second time in their history the Turbos have won three of their first four games.
They also did that in 2009 when they bowled Counties-Manukau at home, Southland away and Otago at home.
While last night the Steamers scored four tries at FMG Stadium and Manawatu just an infuriating three, to have banked 12 competition points beats the heck out of the five they had this time last year.
It's just that Manawatu fans need stable nervous and cardiac systems because the Turbos always seem to get there the hard way. Fortunately, the 19-year-old first five-eighth Otere Black looked totally unfazed by the way he kicked five from seven for 14 vital points.
Manawatu coach Jason O'Halloran was pleased to win, just disappointed with how the Turbos did not finish the game off.
"Effectively all we've done is gift them two bonus points," he said.
But while they let in two unnecessary tries in the last five minutes when the subs were on, the two competition points winless Bay of Plenty collected should not come back to haunt the Turbos.
Kevin Schuler's poor Steamers have now lost 12 games straight and haven't won since their second game last year. Schuler, by the way, still has his old Manawatu jersey and blazer.
"The Turbos' pace made the difference," he said. "Their young guys did well."
Manawatu must back up on Sunday against Counties-Manukau, but will not get away with so many mistakes against Tana Umaga's men. Manawatu must staunch the bleeding from those horrible lost kickoffs, from strange lineout options and must generate better quality ball from there, as well as give halfback Jamie Booth more protection.
They were again in deficit in possession and a shortage of line speed allowed the big Bay men to steam full ahead and slip offloads.
"I'm happy with the win and we scored some good tries," O'Halloran said. "I'm just sick of sending messages down and being disregarded.
"They scored four tries and we scored three. We've got to be better than that.
"Four tries were there for the taking."
Wing Newton Tudreu is green at this level, evidenced by his suicidal chip kick which donated Bay of Plenty an early try, and woolly passes. But he has natural gas, and it got Manawatu their third try eight minutes after halftime off a break by Black. That made it 26-12 and the stable door should have been slammed shut then.
The Steamers didn't offer much except their lineout rumbles and they conceded seven penalties to one after a half hour. They missed touch with penalties, their goal-kicking was astray and they kept kicking to Milner-Skudder, which seemed puzzling.
What the Bay lacked, and the Turbos had, was x-factor attackers. Milner-Skudder might have spilled a ball cold again, but he must have impressed Hurricanes coaches Chris Boyd and John Plumtree in the grandstand, as must have their flanker Callum Gibbins.
His dash across across field and then 60-metre break upfield was scintillating. His hands set up try no 1 and three minutes later the crowd loved the backflip which put Antonio Kiri Kiri over.
The Turbos backs mostly had the Steamers' measure in defence, led again by Mr Reliable Hamish Northcott, although Bay bruisers Siaosi Iongi and Tino Nemani in the threequarters were a handful. But then so was Manawatu's Nathan Tudreu; so good to have a bullocking 102kg wing for a change.
The Turbos look so much better off clean lineout ball. They just need more continuity and to please camp in the enemy half where things like lineout drives won't hurt.
But there's no denying the Turbos have always been excitement machines, and still are. And for the first time this season they scored a try in the first half.
The bad news for Manawatu was that lock Nick Crosswell was cited by Bay of Plenty last night for two incidents involving an alleged punch and elbow, in the 38th and 56th minutes respectively. The citing commissioner was to decide whether it would proceed.
Who played for Manawatu: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Newton Tudreu, 13 Jason Emery (Jaxon Tagavaitau 74), 12 Hamish Northcott, 11 Nathan Tudreu, 10 Otere Black (Jade Te Rure 72), 9 Jamie Booth (Kayne Hammington 67), 8 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Fraser Stone (Keepa Mewett 55), 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Ma'afu Fia (Hubert Buydens 49), 2 Rob Foreman (Nick Grogan 67), 1 Chris Eves. Scorers: Manawatu 29 (Nathan Tudreu 33, Antonio Kiri Kiri 36, Newton Tudreu 48, tries; Otere Black 4 pen, con) Bay of Plenty 27 (Siegfried Fisiihoi 12, Culum Retallick 25, Mike Kainga 75, Joe Royal 78, tries; Dan Hollinshead con; Byron McGuigan pen; Te Aihe Toma con) HT 21-12. Stats: Possession, Manawatu 46% B 54%. Territory: Manawatu 48% B 52%. Pen's awarded: M10 B8. Lineouts won: M8 B11. Lineouts lost: M3 B0. Turnovers conceded: M17 B21. Goalkicking: Otere Black 5/7. Bay of Plenty 3/6.