North Harbour 17
The relegation scrap in the ITM Cup Premiership took another turn after last-placed Manawatu earned an important victory over North Harbour.
After fellow strugglers Counties won earlier in the day, Manawatu moved within a point of sixth-placed Waikato with two rounds to play.
Securing their Premiership status would have been tough had the Turbos fallen against Harbour in Palmerston North tonight, a prospect that looked possible until a double-strike midway through the second spell.
Harbour had enjoyed more of the ball and looked a greater threat when they found themselves in the opposition 22, establishing a 10-point advantage shortly after halftime. But two tries in five minutes turned the tide and eventually allowed Manawatu to walk away with five precious points.
The defeat left Harbour languishing in sixth on the Championship standings, a disappointing reality given the visitors were initially more clinical in the right areas to take a slight edge to the break.
While Manawatu was struggling with their set piece, Harbour struck through Josh Rowland after a well-worked scrum move, receiving reward for their dominance.
But the setback seemed to spark Manawatu to life, with Fraser Stone helping the home side almost immediately strike back. And the Turbos continued to find fluency after the break, aided by ill-discipline and poor handling from their opponents.
Harbour were dangerous when they did hold onto the ball, with a flowing backline move allowing Matt McGahan to score his side's second. But falling further behind again seemed to spur the Turbos, with Nathan Tudreu's bruising run enabling Callum Gibbins to cross.
And Manawatu soon found the lead through Newtown Tudreu, capitalising on Otere Black's pinpoint cross kick, before Gibbins' second grabbed the bonus point.
Manawatu 31 (F. Stone, C. Gibbins 2, Newton Tudreu tries; O. Black 4 cons, pen)
North Harbour 17 (J. Rowland, M. McGahan tries; B. Hall pen, 2 cons)