Former Manawatu players Kurt Baker and Andre Taylor came back to haunt their old side this afternoon when they helped Taranaki to their seventh Ranfurly Shield defence.
Baker scored a hat-trick of tries and Taylor one as Taranaki beat Manawatu 59-18 at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth.
The pair were at the heart of most of Taranaki's attacks as they stretched the challenges to breaking point.
Add in a double to wing Frazier Climo and Taranaki were running amok in the final quarter.
The win, Taranaki's sixth in the NPC, kept them in striking distance of competition leaders Auckland.
Whether Taranaki can overtake them will be decided on Wendesday when they host Waikato in their last Shield defence of the season.
Taranaki dominated the first half and got their first points after just six minutes when Climo slotted a penalty, one of three he would land in the opening 40 minutes.
While Manawatu drew even four minutes later, returning wing Andre Taylor took advantage of a good run by halfback Jamison Gibson-Park to score against his former team.
An excellent turnover by lock Jason Eaton then sent fullback Baker under the posts to make the score 17-3.
To their credit, Manawatu struck back following some good lead-up work which ended with wing Craig Clare scoring out wide.
His conversion dragged the score back to 17-10 before Climo landed another two three pointers.
It could have been more had his last attempt not hit the post. Both sides made plenty of mistakes in the final quarter of the half, with half breaks not being able to be turned into points.
Taranaki 52 (Kurt Baker 3, Frazier Climo 2, Andre Taylor, Jackson
Ormond, Willie Rickards tries; Cimo 4 cons, 3 pens; Taylor con)
Manawatu 18 (Craig Clare, Reece Robinson tries; Clare 2 pens, con). HT
23-10. FULL TIME Taranaki win 59 - 18.
- Taranaki Daily News
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