With nothing more than pride to play for, Bay of Plenty held out a late surge from Manawatu to record a 28-27 Air NZ Cup win in Palmerston North on Friday.
With nothing more than pride to play for, Bay of Plenty held out a late surge from Manawatu to record a 28-27 Air New Zealand Cup win in Palmerston North on Friday.
The Steamers have had a tough time in the last three weeks tasting defeat, but finally got back to winning ways against a determined Turbos outfit. But it was too little too late for the visitors, with their semi-final hopes already up in smoke.
In a close tussle, Manawatu trailed Bay of Plenty 10-13 at half-time.
Steamers pivot Mike Delany – the competition's leading scorer – was successful with two first half penalties before returning flanker Luke Braid slipped a tackle to score a converted try for a handy lead.
13-3 down, Manawatu awoke from their slumber as the Turbos' forwards overpowered their counterparts when number eight Brent Thompson charged off the back of a scrum.
Stopped in his tracks, lock Reece Robinson showed brilliant support to continue the movement and crash over for the try which Isaac Thompson, a late replacement for an injured Aaron Cruden, converted.
Manawatu dished out more of the same to Bay of Plenty in the second half, their commitment growing as they sniffed a chance of a come-from-behind victory.
But Bay of Plenty had other ideas when centre Phil Burleigh got lucky with a chip ahead that was fumbled by Manawatu full-back Casey Stone, allowing the Steamers' midfielder to recollect and score.
Manawatu's commitment was finally rewarded minutes after wing Aaron James was bundled out into touch near the corner flag with Brent Thompson finishing off a Johnny Leota move. Isaac Thompson's conversion got Manawatu back to 17-18 down.
The Turbos were on top and came close to scoring again, but a knock-on deep in Steamers' territory denied the home team as they looked like taking the lead for the first time.
But just as it looked like the home team's domination was going to be too much for the visitors another mistake led to a third try for the Steamers who stretched their lead out to eleven points.
Once again, Manawatu had Bay of Plenty pinned in their 22 when they lost the ball. The clearing kick was made and Bay of Plenty wing Jason Hona was first to the ball, leaving a desperate Manawatu lock Jason Goode in the distance as he scored his try.
Delany then nailed his third penalty as the Steamers took advantage of a rare second-half visit into Manawatu territory.
Another Isaac Thompson penalty closed the gap for Manawatu and with two minutes to go, replacement front rower Sean O'Connor scored a converted try but a luckless Manawatu had run out of time.
Tries: Robinson, B Thompson, O'Connor
Cons: Thompson 3
Pens: Thompson 2
For Bay of Plenty:
Tries: Braid, Burleigh, Hona
Cons: Delany 2
Pens: Delany 3
Manawatu: 15 Casey Stone, 14 Andre Taylor, 13 Tomasi Cama, 12 Johnny Leota, 11 Aaron James, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Brent Thompson, 7 Doug Tietjens, 6 Nick Crosswell (c), 5 James Goode, 4 Reece Robinson, 3 David Te Moana, 2 Rob Foreman, 1 Grant Polson.
Replacements: 16 Sean O'Connor, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Lisiate Fa'aoso, 19 Callum Gibbins, 20 Hamish Gosling, 21 Isaac Thompson, 22 Tevita Taufui.
Bay of Plenty: 15 Corey Aporo, 14 Zar Lawrence, 13 Nigel Hunt, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Jason Hona, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Junior Poluleuligaga, 8 Colin Bourke (c), 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 John Moore, 3 Ted Tauroa, 2 John Pareanga, 1 Joe Savage.
Replacements: 16 Dean Elmiger, 17 Kane Hames, 18 Mark Burman, 19 Josh Katene, 20 Zac Hohneck, 21 Josh Hall, 22 Wayne Hughson.
Referee: Garratt Williamson