Southland ran five tries past Manawatu on their way to a well-earned 37-23 ITM Cup win at FMG Stadium in Palmerston North on Saturday.
The Stags showed they will be a strength to be reckoned with this year in picking up a valuable bonus point for their efforts.
The visitors outmuscled the Turbos at ruck and maul time, giving the back-line plenty of time and space to work their magic.
The Ranfurly Shield holders played superbly into the breeze in the first half but Manawatu lifted their game in the second half as well.
The Turbos were struggling with injury losing regular fly-half Isaac Thompson prior to kick-off and were already without All Black pivot Aaron Cruden, meaning Sevens star Tomasi Cama stepped into the role mid-way through the first half.
Playing into a stiff first-half breeze, the men from the deep south compiled three unanswered tries to lead 19-9 at half-time, virtually securing the outcome.
Southland hit the front in just the third minute through a slick try to winger Mark Wells, set up fly-half James Wilson. Number eight Elliott Dixon finished off a long-rang Southland counter-attack while their captain Jamie Mackintosh burrowed over on the stroke of half-time.
Southland halfback Scott Cowan scored his team's second-half try while a couple of Wilson penalties kept the visitors clear over the closing minutes.
The hosts only had three penalties to full-back Craig Clare to show for their possession and territory domination but responded with second-half tries to lively scrum-half Aaron Smith and centre Hadleigh Parkes.
With the easy conversion and a scoreline of 23 - 34, Manawatu began to search for a bonus point in the final five minutes after reserve hooker Bayden Mitchell was sin-binned by referee Glenn Newman for persistent team offending at the breakdown.
But any hopes of taking something from the game was quickly snuffed out by Wilson who immediately slotted a penalty; the margin out to 14 points with two minutes remaining.
Tries: Smith, Parkes
Cons: Paku 2
Pens: Clare 3
Tries: Wells, Dixon, Mackintosh, Cowan, Wilson
Cons: Robinson 3
Pens: Wilson 2
Manawatu: 15 Craig Clare, 14 Shannon Paku, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Francis Bryant, 11 Lote Raikabula, 10 Isaac Thompson, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Mitchell Crosswell, 7 Doug Tietjens, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Reece Robinson, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ma'afu Fia, 2 Sean O'Connor, 1 Grant Polson.
Replacements: 16 Rob Foreman, 17 Shane Kingsland, 18 Hamish Gosling, 19 James Oliver, 20 Karl Bryson, 21 Tomasi Cama, 22 Casey Stone.
Southland: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Glen Horton, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Matt Saunders, 11 Mark Wells, 10 James Wilson, 9 Scott Cowan, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Tim Boys, 6 John Hardie, 5 Joe Tuineau, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c). Replacements: Brayden Mitchell, Nic Barrett/Micheal Peterson, Dion Bates, Kane Thompson, Nick Annear, Pehi Te Whare, Tony Koonwaiyou.