Rugby: Manawatu pick up rare win

By Daniel Richardson

Callum Gibbins of Manawatu is tackeld by Filo Paulo of North Harbour. Photo / Getty Images
Callum Gibbins of Manawatu is tackeld by Filo Paulo of North Harbour. Photo / Getty Images

Halfback Papa Wharewera scored a late try to help Manawatu pick up an historic 23-20 victory over Harbour in Albany tonight.

The win marked the first time Manawatu have recorded an away win over Harbour and Wharewera's score with only 90 seconds left proved vital for the visitors.

Victories have been tough to come by for both sides in this year's ITM Cup who have struggled to find their swag due to inconsistent play and the inability to execute the basics.

A try to replacement Manu Leiataua with 13 minutes remaining looked to be crucial for Harbour who took back the advantage on the scoreboard after the Turbos had taken an unlikely lead mid-way through the second half after a try to Jason Emery.

Leiataua's five-pointer were the only points the Liam Barry-coached outfit could muster during the final 40 minutes as the second-half rain proved tough to negotiate and they finished with their fifth loss of the campaign.

The opening half was full of enthusiasm but produced little champagne rugby as Harbour and Manawatu struggled to retain possession.

Manawatu enjoyed a positive opening to the game after big lock Mike Fitzgerald made a promising linebreak and managed to find his support but some heroic Harbour cover defence cut down Wharerewa as he headed to the tryline.

Harbour were the first to get on the board when flanker Sam Hayes-Stevenson dotted down after a quarter of an hour before the right boot of Turbos wing Craig Clare got Manawatu in to the game.

Lock Api Ratuniyarawa added a try of his own and Harbour goal-kicker Luke Devcich found his range as he added the extras, before Clare kicked another penalty.

Devcich's first penalty of the night made it 15-6 as Harbour went in to the break with a handy advantage.

Manawatu threw everything at the home side in the final five minutes, including a scintillating break from Tomasi Cama, who found Emery, but the centre was tackled metres from a match-winning try.

From a set of ensuing scrums though Wharewera managed to sneak his important try as the Turbos held on to produce their second win of the season.

Manawatu 23 (Papa Wharerewa, Jason Emery tries; Craig Clare 2 con 3 pen) Harbour 20 (Api Ratuniyarawa, Sam Hayes-Stevenson, Manu Leiataua tries; Luke Devcich con) HT: 6-15

- APNZ

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