The Manawatū Turbos pulled off a stunning upset to celebrate Nick Crosswell's 100th game for the province by beating Canterbury 32-29 in Christchurch on Thursday night.

Knocking off the perennial title contenders was the third victory in a row for the Turbos as the side looks to have shaken off its rocky start to the season to be genuine playoff contenders.

Thursday's win was the Turbos' first over Canterbury since 2016 and their first in Christchurch since 2008.

Crosswell became the 11th player to reach the 100-game milestone in the union's 134-year history when he led the team out on the field.

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While Crosswell was typically busy around the field, it was fellow loose forward Brayden Iose, along with captain Jamie Booth who stole the show.

The early pressure looked to favour Canterbury, but Manawatū proved up to the task on defence as they survived the early wave of attack.

When Manawatū got their hands on the balls, they were patient and they capitalised on their chances as Ngani Laumape threw a perfect cut-out pass to set up Johnny Galloway in the corner.

Otere Black extended the lead with a penalty in front of the sticks and by the 26th minute the Turbos were 13-points ahead after Andre Taylor hammered home a 51m penalty off the back of a dominant scrum from Samu Tawake.

Taylor was back in the action shortly after as Canterbury No 8 Whetu Douglas broke away.

His offload was broken up by Liam Mitchell, tipping the ball into the hands of Taylor who proved there is still plenty of pace in his 31-year-old legs as he sliced through the defence for an 80m try.

Dallas McLeod showed off some fancy footwork to get Canterbury on the board after 32 minutes.

But just three minutes later, fortune favoured the Turbos as an Otere Black kick took a wicked bounce for Josh McKay, sitting up for a charging Laumape to bag a try.

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Manawatū was out in front 25-5 at the break.

The second half was a more even affair with Canterbury throwing everything at trying to win the game.

Seb Siataga crossed from a wayward Turbos lineout to cut the lead 25-17.

Canterbury were persistent on attack with McKay scoring with 10 minutes to play.

With just one minute on the clock, Brett Cameron bagged a try for Canterbury to set up a frantic final minute.

But after some solid defence, Canterbury eventually knocked the ball on with the Turbos claiming the famous bonus-point win.