Gibbins laments mistakes
Manawatu flanker Callum Gibbins played himself to a standstill in his 30th game last night, as he always does, but that didn't staunch the internal agony.
Losing with 30 seconds or so left in the pivotal game was hard to stomach, as it was for everyone.
"This one is the worst feeling I have had as a player," he said.
The soaking conditions didn't bother him. There wasn't any wind or cold so he was in his combative element.
But he didn't expect to hear the whistle for obstruction when he set off for the line four minutes from fulltime with the Turbos ahead 11-10.
"I don't know. I took it up and ran. I thought I was sweet when I was on the ground."
But he lamented the Turbos' mistake rate, which eventually cost them. "We kept them in the game and defended for so long," he said.
Coach Jason O'Halloran was remarkably cool after such a gut-wrenching defeat, which left a record of three wins and seven losses in his first season. They scored 20 tries and conceded 41, and he remained proud of his warriors last night. "They gave their guts,” he said. “I couldn't fault their effort.
"We were ahead for 70 minutes. We've had three crucial games - against Otago, Counties and this one - when we have been in crucial positions and have coughed up the game."
As he said, it was a difficult night to play rugby in the Invercargill wet, but he pointed out that at times the Turbos didn't help themselves.
"There were a couple of try-scoring chances we didn't take. And our kick-chase wasn't good enough through the night."
He and forwards coach Wesley Clarke will have the summer to figure out what went askew in the lineouts. O'Halloran felt the team had been going in the right direction, but this time couldn't quite pull it off. He would have loved another lick at Counties-Manukau in a semifinal, even at Pukekohe.
"We found Counties out a little bit and took the game to them."
Southland captain Jamie Mackintosh could afford to be magnanimous to the Turbos. "We did well to get out of it, really. I really do feel for the Manawatu boys; it was a very tough way for them to lose."
THE MATCH FACTS
Who played for Manawatu? 15 Lewis Marshall, 14 Craig Clare, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Shaun Curry, 11 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 10 Nathan George (Hamish Northcott 45-52), 9 Papa Wharewera (Karl Bryson 61), 8 James Oliver, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Michael FitzGerald, 4 Fraser Stone (Reece Robinson 73), 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Rob Foreman (Bryn Templeman 59), 1 Grant Polson (Eric Fry 73). Scorers: Southland 17 (Cardiff Vaega 21, Marty McKenzie 79, tries; Scott Eade 2 conv, pen) Manawatu 11 (Ma'afu Fia try, 27; Nathan George, Craig Clare, pens) HT 7-8.
Possession: S 65% M 35%. Errors: M6, S3. Missed tackles: M7, S4. Rucks-mauls: S38, M35. Scrums: S6, M3. Lineouts won: M5, S3. Lineouts lost: M5, S0.