The Manawatu Turbos may have had their first win but they are not resting on their laurels, by any means.
Manawatu face Tasman at FMG Stadium Sunday afternoon and Turbos' spirits will be decidedly higher after they beat Northland on Wednesday night.
After two canings at the hands of Premiership sides, they have an easier task with their second match against a Championship team but coach Jason O'Halloran wasn't getting ahead of himself.
"We'd like to beat Tasman but we're under no illusion," he said. "They've beaten Canterbury and all but won the [Ranfurly] Shield. They've got [an] excellent general at 12 [Andrew Goodman] who asks a lot of questions and a lot of firepower . . . We're not going to change too much about the way we play."
O'Halloran felt their set piece had gone well in their last two games but they wanted the team to look after possession more.
The new-look midfield proved to be successful as Matenga Baker at second five-eighth and Jason Emery at centre proved to be solid on attack and defence.
"They went well," O'Halloran said. "The thing they did provide was a cutting edge in attack and a better balance in attack and we're not over-relying on our pack."
They banished the missed tackles they made against Auckland and defended better against Northland.
But Manawatu will need to make sure they don't switch off like they did at the end of the Northland game and concede tries.
Tasman haven't played since their unsuccessful Shield challenge last weekend and this will be Manawatu's third game in a week.
"They had a nice little eight-day break until they play us, a lot of time to study us and get prepared. They'll be disappointed they didn't steal the Shield."
Emery, who has looked the goods in his first three games also impressed O'Halloran, especially after his try against the Taniwha, and he could be a key man for the rest of the season.
"It's a fair start to a career with a fend on Rene Ranger."
O'Halloran was happy to have ticked up their first win of the season and said it was the type of performance they felt they had in them, so now it's on them to repeat it.
He was keen to stick to a winning formula but in a further blow to the loose forwards stocks No 8 James Oliver was under an injury cloud with his recurring groin strain and was in doubt for tomorrow.
There is hope he will play but if he doesn't Manawatu would be without their two preferred No 8s as Hamish Gosling is already out with a shoulder injury. Turbos management were yet to decide on a replacement if Oliver is ruled out, but options are Te Kawau loosies Daniel FitzGerald or Tepasu Thomas.
If Oliver doesn't play then Antonio Kiri Kiri may find himself with a starting berth.
The backline remains intact but in one change to the bench, speedy College Old Boys winger Willie Paia'aua comes into the 22 as a straight replacement for George Tilsley.
They were boosted by the return to the starting side of prop Grant Polson, who broke his try-scoring drought of 64 first-class games, and Highlanders front rower Ma'afu Fia.
Kick off is at 2.35pm Sunday.
HOW THEY LINE UP
MANAWATU TURBOS Backs: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Craig Clare, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Matenga Baker, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Junior Tomasi Cama, 9 Karl Bryson. Forwards: 8 James Oliver, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Nick Crosswell (captain), 5 Michael FitzGerald, 4 Fraser Stone 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Rob Foreman, 1 Grant Polson Subs: 16 Bryn Templeman, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Reece Robinson, 19 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 20 Papa Wharewera, 21 Lewis Marshall, 22 Willie Paia'aua Tasman Makos Backs: 15 Robbie Malneek, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Andrew Goodman (captain), 11 George Millar, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Steve Alfeld. Forwards: 8 Vernon Fredericks, 7 Gary Redmond, 6 Shane Christie, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Rikki Hoeata, 3 Campbell Johnstone, 2 Francis Smith, 1 Tim Perry. Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Tevita Cavubati, 19 Tevita Koloamatangi, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 James Lowe. Referee: Kane McBride TAB odds: Manawatu $1.75 Tasman $2.00 Last match: Manawatu 27 Tasman 23, 2011 in Nelson Matches played: 6, Mtu won 2, lost 4
- Manawatu Standard
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