Waikato came from behind to beat Manawatu 19-10 in their Mitre 10 Cup clash on Sunday.
Manawatu provided the early fireworks with one of the tries of the season but it was the Waikato defence, superior urgency and industrious work at the breakdown which won out in the end.
With the wet and blustery conditions preventing a free flowing spectacle in Hamilton, Waikato will be satisfied with securing their second win of the season while Manawatu will be disappointed to not even come away with a bonus point.
Manawatu needed to start strong to have any chance of lifting the shield and got it when wing Newton Tudreu busted the game wide open. The dynamic wing latched onto an attacking Waikato cross kick to run 60 metres before chipping inside for fellow wing Ambrose Curtis to score.
While Manawatu had the better of the first half, it was Waikato fullback Damian McKenzie that kept the home side in the game with three penalties making the halftime score 10-9 to the challengers.
Waikato coach Sean Botherway made a number of changes in the second half, including injecting All Blacks halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow into the action. Waikato displayed more urgency in the second half while Manawatu couldn’t seem to go more than two phases without losing possession.
Another Damian McKenzie penalty was followed by a try to Willis Halaholo to stretch the lead to 19-9. Manawatu sensed an opportunity to comeback in the final minutes, but just couldn’t break through the stoic Waikato defence.
If the Turbos were to pinpoint one area where they lost the game it would be the breakdown. The visitors conceded 23 turnovers to Waikato’s 13 and struggled for rhythm in the second half as a result.
Pens: McKenzie 4
Waikato: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Jordan Trainor, 13 Nathaniel Apa, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Sevu Reece, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Isaac Boss (c) 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Murray Iti, 6 Jordan Manihera, 5 Brian Alainu'uese, 4 Jacob Skeen, 3 Atu Moli, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Loni Uhila
Replacements: 16 Steven Misa, 17 Sefo Kautai, 18 Latu Talakai, 19 Brad Tucker, 20 Mitch Jacobson, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Tevita Taufui, 23 Iliesa Ratuva Tavuyara
Manawatu: 15 Jason Emery, 14 Newton Tudreu, 13 Hamish Northcott, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ambrose Curtis, 10 Otere Black, 9 Toby Morland, 8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 7 Callum Gibbins (c), 6 Jackson Hemopo, 5 Kane Thompson, 4 Tom Parsons, 3 Mike Alaalatoa, 2 Hunter Prescott, 1 Fraser Armstrong
Replacements: 16 Travis Taylor, 17 Tuki Raimona, 18 Chris Eves, Valentino Mapapalangi, 20 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Sam Malcolm, 23 Nathan Tudreu