It's a shame the Northland Taniwha fans could not pack into Semenoff Stadium to applaud their team's brutal physical dominance and determination in an emphatic win over Manawatu.
Northland turned up at their spiritual home on Sunday with a healthy appetite for confrontation and a sense of purpose and played with an urgency and certainty that made it clear they were chasing victory, not respect, in their 43-26 win in the opening Mitre 10 Cup clash.
It was sweet revenge, having lost narrowly to the Turbos in Palmerston North last year.
After Nehe Milner-Skudder was binned with just over a quarter of the match remaining,
Manawatu couldn't do a thing right. Not even All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith could wave the magic wand and somehow haul his side back into contention.
Their lineout was a shambles, their midfield defence didn't work the way they wanted, and they had no end of ingenuity in the ways they made life difficult for themselves.
Conversely, the home side was on some kind of a magical ride where their passes stuck, they shortened the Turbos up and then stretched them wide. It was clinical finishing at its best.
• Invitation-only to watch Northland's first Mitre 10 Cup clash
• Mitre 10 Cup: Northland Taniwha succumb to Manawatū Turbos 31-25 in Palmerston North
• Northland coach profile: Taniwha assistant coach Tui Raeli
And the home side, presented with a numerical advantage and a stiff breeze behind their backs, pounced hard — not just at the coal face, it was across the park from 1 to 15, especially on defence.
But the match didn't start off the way it finished for Northland.
Down 20-3 midway in the first half, their resurgence began with a pair of quick tries, featuring the Goodhue brothers; Josh and Jack, setting up the finishers.
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The Cambridge Blue could not have asked for a better start to the second half. With a right step and a left fend leaving Michael Alaalatoa biting dust, No 8 Sam MacNamara scored to stretch his team's lead even further.
The interplay by Scott Gregory and Kara Pryor preceding that try was straight off the training ground — well-planned moves, executed at speed and with stunning precision.
Rugby is an evolving sport but it's still true that the team which dominates the collisions and looks after the ball, has the better chance of winning.
Manawatu were unable to locate a soft underbelly and finished the last quarter limp and insipid.
Josh Goodhue, MacNamara, Gregory, Tom Robinson, and Wiseguy Faiane, in particular, went rampaging around the field as if they were sacking an enemy village.
They were faster and they were more precise. They kicked from hand better, and they tackled in the way that wrecking-balls meet walls and contested every last little piece of the ground while manning an impregnable defence.
They won the critical moments. They found a way to hold their composure when it mattered, which is the exact definition of resilience.
The Turbos looked like little boys being bullied outside the sweet shop.
There was no lack of effort or desire on the part of their part, but endeavour, however honest, can't be made to count if buddied up with a touch of rashness.
They failed to find that one break— that one moment that would give them what they needed.
Northland's next game is against Tasman Mako in Blenheim this Friday.