A quizzical late try has given Manawatu one of the biggest upsets in recent NPC history.

The Turbos toppled Canterbury 19-13 in Palmerston North this afternoon to claim one of the province's greatest wins in curious circumstances.

Down by a point in the dying minutes, an attacking Manawatu kick caused a contest for the ball in the Canterbury in-goal. Canterbury replacement Johnny McNicholl thought he had safely grounded the ball, leaving trailing Manawatu lock Jackson Hemopo to causally plant a mitt on it, seemingly as an after-thought.

His decision proved to be pivotal, with TMO Chris Jansen ruling McNicholl hadn't dealt with the danger, and awarding Manawatu the match-sealing try.


Any Canterbury complaints could possibly be neutered by the fact the Turbos were playing under penalty advantage; with the accurate boot of Otere Black likely to put the hosts in front regardless.

To put the upset in context, Canterbury came into the contest with a perfect record, having won by an average of 36 points per game and running in 27 tries in their four clashes.

The last two games between the provinces ended with a 50 point and 65 point trouncing in favour of Canterbury, while Manawatu had struggled through their early slate of mediocre opposition in 2016.

The dour conditions would have played into Manawatu's favour, with no tries being scored in the first half for the first time in this season's Mitre 10 Cup.

Manawatu were the better team in the first stanza, and kept Canterbury from crossing the line until the 60th minute, when impressive winger George Bridge managed to cross in the corner to give Canterbury the lead.

But just as it looked like Canterbury's unbeaten run would continue, the hosts pulled out a Manawatu miracle.

Manawatu 19 (Jackson Hemopo try; Otere Black con, 4 pen)
Canterbury 13 (George Bridge try; Richie Mo'unga con, 2 pen)
Halftime: 9-6