Yarrows Taranaki loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula proved to be a pivotal player in his side's 13-10 win over Manawatū at a wet Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North on Saturday.
Sowakula, who was named player of the match and picked up three Duane Monkley medal points, was impressive in difficult conditions during the national provincial championship match.
The 17-cap loose forward had several breaks off the back of the scrum, made invaluable metres and earned important turnovers at the breakdown. Sowakula's performance got Taranaki into good areas of the field.
Reflecting on his performance after the match, Sowakula said the weather was challenging to play in.
"The weather was really cold. The boys gave it their very best. The job was done by the front row. I just did the job at the back of the scrum."
Sowakula said he was learning off his fellow Chiefs team-mates in the Taranaki side and is building off every weekend.
The driving rain made it tough to play in as puddles formed on the field forcing both sides to make mistakes. It ended as an old-fashioned forward battle.
With only three tries scored in the match, Taranaki first five-eighth Daniel Waite's two penalty kicks ensured the amber and blacks' second win in as many games.
Taranaki started strongly with a driving maul close to the line, but it was collapsed by Manawatū which allowed English referee Dan Jones to award a penalty try.
That was the only Taranaki try, but Manawatū's awareness in the first half evened the ledger.
The first Manawatū try was scored by wing Ben Werthmuller after a cleaver kick was stabbed behind the Taranaki defence.
Halfback Jamie Booth was then able to slide over close to the line in the corner moments later.
Both conversions were missed by Ōtere Black and Ben Wyness that kept the scores at 10-all at the break.
Taranaki defended well in the second half denying Manawatū opportunities to score and forcing turnovers.
Although saying the weather was some of the worst he's seen, Taranaki coach Willie Rickards was pleased with the team.
"I'm thrilled with the result. It was a really tough game. Credit to Manawatū, they taught us how to play wet weather rugby."
Taranaki hosts Northland at home on Sunday, while Manawatū plays Tasman.
At a glance:
Taranaki 13 (Penalty try, D. Waite 2 pen)
Manawatū 10 (B. Werthmuller, J. Booth tries).
Half Time: 10-10.