Manawatu continue streak against Harbour
Manawatu's upstart rugby team maintained their unbeaten home record this season with a second-half onslaught against North Harbour at FMG Stadium, Palmerston North tonight.
The Turbos beat North Harbour 32-21 to wrench back the lead of the ITM Cup, helped by Hawke's Bay's loss to the Tasman Makos at Napier in the preceding fixture.
Manawatu looked out of sorts in the first spell and deservedly trailed North Harbour by 14-8 at halftime.
Harbour had scored the try of the match to New Zealand sevens player David Raikuna from broken play after his other wing, Nafi Tuitavake, had made a searing break from 80 metres out to put effervescent halfback Chris Smylie through for the try.
Sadly for Harbour, it was to be one of only two tries. They scored their second against the run of play to first five-eighth Willie Walker after the Turbos had got out to a seemingly unbeatable 25-14 lead an hour into the game.
All Black prop Tony Wooodcock got through a solid 40 minutes in his comeback game until taken off at halftime, taking much of the sting out of the Harbour scrum.
Manawatu dominated territorially from then on, winning the second half 24-7 but still should have added the killer blow.
They did score three tries, one a spectacular touchdown to halfback Aaron Smith set up by sevens star Tomasi Cama who had scored 12 minutes a try himself after halftime. He also popped over a dropped goal for good measure.
The coup de grace was when first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, who had a subdued game by his standards, fly-hacked a ball and scored the bonus point under the sticks two minutes from time.
Other Manawatu players to stand out were locks Michael FitzGerald and Fraser Stone, fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder and wing Asaeli Tikoirotuma. Harboru's best were No 8 Mat Luamanu, Smylie and Tuitavake.
Manawatu 32 (Nehe Milner-Skudder, Tomasi Cama, Aaron Smith, Aaron Cruden; Cruden 3 con, pen; Cama dg)
North Harbour 21 (David Raikuna, Willie Walker, tries; Walker 3 pen; Ben Botica con)
The Manawatu Standard