No one wants to see a dominant performance overshadowed by a questionable refereeing decision.

Unfortunately for Northland, it's safe to say the major talking point in their 49-19 decimation of Manawatu on Friday night was, indeed, a refereeing decision.

Taniwha loose forward Kara Pryor's 48th minute try was awarded by television match official Llew Smart, despite fullback Matt Wright appearing to have knocked the ball on in the build-up.

In real time, it appeared the ball changed direction upon striking Wright's hand, before he scooped it up to put Pryor into space to run away for the try. However, after eight slow-motion replays over almost two minutes, the TMO judged that there was insufficient evidence to overturn the on-field decision of a try, and the score stood.


The decision had no bearing on the result, however. It was the sixth of seven Northland tries on the night, as the hosts put on a spectacle for the fans in Whangarei.

It wasn't all one way traffic, with Manawatu opening the scoring inside 10 minutes when James Tofa crossed for the first try of the night. The Turbos had the upper hand through the opening exchanges, but things quickly unraveled when Northland scored three tries in six minutes to hold a 12 point lead after 21 minutes.

From there, the Taniwha took over. Scoring twice more before the break, Northland held a convincing 34-12 lead at halftime. They wasted little time extending that in the second stanza – albeit controversially – when Pryor crossed the line.

Manawatu were unable to make the most of the possession they had, which was reflected in the scoreline, with Blake Hohaia scoring one last try for the Taniwha to stamp home the victory inside the final 10 minutes.

Manawatu crossed the line in the 80th minute for consolation points, but the damage had been done much earlier in the fixture.

The win sees Northland improve their season record to two wins and three losses, and jump to third on the Championship ladder at the end of the night.

Northland 49 (Matt Matich, Jordan Olsen, Jordan Hyland, Jack Debreczeni, Scott Gregory, Kara Pryor, Blake Hohaia tries; Debreczeni 4 cons, 2 pens)
Manawatu 19 (James Tofa, Junior Laloifi, Adrian Wyrill tries; Sam Malcolm con, Otere Black con)
HT: 34-12