Southland snatch dramatic win over Manawatu
A late try by Marty McKenzie has kept Southland's season alive with a 17-11 win that ended Manawatu's hopes of making the NPC championship semifinals.
The Stags will now have a nervous wait until tomorrow afternoon to see if Counties-Manukau can beat Northland and knock the Taniwha out of the top four.
Manawatu took an 8-7 lead into halftime with both teams managing to get across the line in the first spell.
The Stags scored through Cardiff Vaega, who bumped his way through two tackles toscore in the corner, with Scott Eade converting from the sideline.
Manawatu's try was more in keeping with the conditions, Ma'a Fia credited with the try after the Turbos had rumbled the ball around the fringes of the ruck.
Manawatu were getting over the advantage line with some ease but would then spin the ball wide before they could take full advantage.
Some strong counter-attacking running from the likes of Nehe Milner-Skudder and the sniping around the ruck from halfback Papa Wharewera were daggers in the Southland cause, which wasn't helped by a couple of glaring kicks out on the full.
The Stags lineout, as it has for much of the season, was keeping them in the game.
Eade kicked Southland to a 10-8 lead soon after the break, but Manawatu earned a cheap scrum penalty soon after which Craig Clare banged over with Nate George off the field for a concussion check.
With 10 minutes to go, Manawatu were desperately trying to add to their 11-10 lead and were enjoying most of the ball and territory.
In the final movement of the game, Mark Wells broke clear and Vaega carried strongly before McKenzie managed to sneak over on the blindside.
Southland 17 (Cardiff Vaega, Marty McKenzie tries; Scott Eade 2 con, pen) Manawatu 11 (Ma'a Fia try; Nate George pen, Craig Clare pen)