Turbos continue Wellington's misery in capital
Woeful is now the only word to describe Wellington's provincial rugby team after they crashed to a 27-21 loss to Manawatu at Westpac Stadium tonight.
The Lions were guilty of poor basic skills and repeated defensive lapses as their national provincial championship slump extended to a third straight loss.
A week after being embarrassed by Northland, another Championship side exposed Wellington's frailties.
Manawatu coach Jason O'Halloran said before the match he had little sympathy for his former team's struggles and his players didn't either in securing a precious win over their Premiership neighbours.
The Turbos weren't perfect either, but in promising first five eighth Otere Black, had a calm head and a steady boot.
The visitor's seized their opportunities to score two second half tries, both off well taken breaks by Black, who finished with a personal tally of 22 points.
With the home side up 9-6 with half an hour to play Black scored the first try of the match when he drifted outside Wellington lock Jeremy Thrush.
In his first NPC start, Black found the returning All Black defending two out from the ruck ten minutes later to ghost through and turn the final pass inside to replacement halfback Jamie Booth, whose try on debut put his side up 21-9 with 21 minutes to play.
Wellington were now in full panic mode. Woodward finally converted a scoring opportunity from a simple scrum move and when prop Tolu Fahamokioa crashed over with seven minutes to play the 2880 fans in the stands sniffed a Houdini act.
But the clock, the steady boot of Black and the work of tireless openside Callum Gibbins were all working against the home side.
Fahamokioa's try and Woodwards' conversion closed the margin to 24-21, but Black had the last say with his fifth penalty in the final minute.
It secured the Turbos second win from three matches after a first up win over Northland and a heavy defeat to Auckland.
The Lions are now reflecting on losses to Waikato, Northland and Manawatu and face the daunting task of playing Auckland at Eden Park next Saturday.
On current evidence a revival seems hopeful rather than likely. Even the return of All Blacks TJ Perenara and Thrush failed to spark the listless Lions.
Perhaps the only bright spot was the performance of their own No 10 Chase Tiatia.
The teenager made more than a good fist of his duties with several clean breaks, some nice handling and deserves another chance.
Tiatia made a start when he ripped the ball out of a Turbos attacker's arms with his first action of the match and he showed off his pace and skill with a break and off load on 20 minutes.
It should have led to the first try of the match, but Shields and wing Andrew Wells teamed up to blow a simple draw and pass.
It was a sign of things to come. Wellington started with the right intensity, but their skill level was some way behind.
They led 6-0 through two Woodward penalties, but should have been leading by 20 after as many minutes.
The Lions blew three tries in quick succession through poor skill execution.
Wing Ambrose Curtis was left red-faced when he failed to put the ball over the try line when the opportunity presents itself, trying to step inside his marker only to be held up out wide.
Hooker Motu Matu'u then spilled a poor pass with an enormous overlap outside him, one of four occasions the hooker was involved in turnovers in the first half.
The Turbos weren't a lot better in the first spell. Their lineout faltered early and apart from two nice breaks from centre Jason Emery and some hard work up front from hooker Rob Foreman, didn't bring a lot to the contest either.
However, the visitors did manage to draw level on the scoreboard via two penalties to Black and at 6-6 coach O'Halloran would have been satisfied with the halftime score.
Wellington 21 (Jason Woodward, Tolu Fahamokioa tries, Woodward 3 pen, con) Manawatu 27 (Otere Black, Jamie Booth tries, Black 5 pen, con). HT: 6-6.