Hawke's Bay Magpies 45
Manawatu Turbos 17
Hawke's Bay retained the Kel Tremain Memorial Trophy with tonight's 45-17 win against Manawatu at Napier's McLean Park.
More importantly, the five competiton points gained from the eighth round Mitre 10 Cup victory kept the Magpies hopes of a home semifinal alive. As the score suggests, the Magpies were dominant and scored 45 unanswered points after leading 17 during the first quarter to give prop Ben May a memorable blazer game for the hosts.
The Turbos opened the scoring in the second minute when lock Brad Tucker scored following superb buildup work from classy midfielders All Black Ngani Laumape and Highlander Rob Thompson.
Manawatu displayed outstanding retention and control during the early minutes, with the Magpies guilty of conceding too many penalties during this period.
Manawatu fullback Sam Malcolm had a try disallowed in the 11th minute after television match official Mark Johnson correctly ruled Malcolm had knocked the ball on. However, the Turbos continued to apply the pressure and Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa scored in the 13th minute. Black added the conversion and the Turbos led 14-0.
Black put the Turbos ahead with a 19th minute penalty.
The Magpies opened their account in the 21st minute with a try to their second five Pasqualle Dunn after clever buildup work from fullback JJ Taulagi. Six minutes later the Magpies turned down three points and got seven when hooker Kianu Kereru-Symes scored at a lineout drive and Taulagi added the extras.
Magpies lock and former Turbo Tom Parsons tied the game up with a 33rd minute try after the Turbos lost a lineout. That 17-all scoreline was a fair indication of a first half which saw the Turbos dominate the first quarter and the hosts the second. The Magpies had 58 per cent of the possession in the first half and 46 per cent of the territory.
Thirteen phases including a spectacular burst from No 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u led to prop Mark Braidwood's 44th minute try for the Magpies which secured another bonus point on the table. Taulagi slotted the conversion.
The Magpies took their tally to 31 unanswered points when Taulagi scored in the 58th minute folowing a clever miss pass from captain and openside flanker Gareth Evans. Taulagi added the extras.
Three minutes later winger Jonah Lowe put the result beyond doubt with an 82 metre intercept. Taulagi again slotted the conversion and the Magpies led 38-17.
Quick hands from Taulagi and Evans led to substitute winger Michael Buckley's 72nd minute try which Taulagi converted.
It wasn't a surprise when Taulagi collected a second player-of-the-match award.
"The boys started off slow but we listened to the feedback from the coaches and brought it out on the paddock," Taulagi said afterwards.
The former Sunwolves and Queensland Red praised the input from Magpies pivot Lincoln McClutchie, a first-seaon player at Mitre 10 Cup level.
"He's playing like he's been playing for a while at this level."
Taulagi succeeded with five of his seven attempts at goal and heaped kudos on Magpies goalkicking coach Peter O'Shaughnessy for his tips.
Magpies co-captain Gareth Evans agreed his troops were slow out of the blocks but he was impressed with the manner in which they increased the tempo in the second half.
"The boys stepped up as the match progressed and our young guys are getting better and better," Evans added.
When Wellington referee Ben O'Keefe awarded a try to Turbos fullback Sam Malcolm in the 11th minute before checking with TMO Mark Johnson. Fortunately he backtracked, sought Johnson's opinion and the try was ruled out.
Turning point: Magpies winger Jonah Lowe's 82 metre intercept try in the 61st minute which fullback JJ Taulagi converted to put the hosts ahead 38-17.
Hawke's Bay Magpies 45 (Pasqualle Dunn, Kianu Kereru-Symes, Tom Parsons, Mark Braidwood, JJ Taulagi, Jonah Lowe, Michael Buckley tries; Taulagi 5 cons), Manawatu Turbos 17 (Brad Tucker, Michael Alaalatoa tries; ; Otere Black 2 cons, pen ).