Manawatū Turbos searching for answers after another big loss

Manawatū Turbos fullback Beaudein Waaka was one of the few players to stand out in the loss to Hawke's Bay in Napier on Friday.

Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

Manawatū Turbos fullback Beaudein Waaka was one of the few players to stand out in the loss to Hawke’s Bay in Napier on Friday.

What had been a promising season for the Turbos is now looking increasingly rocky, with the team searching for answers after a rough fortnight.

The Turbos lost 57-7 to Hawke’s Bay in Napier on Friday night, their third heavy loss in a row after going down 48-29 to North Harbour and 58-19 to Tasman 58 in their previous two games.

It was a bad omen when Manawatū dropped the ball from the opening kickoff and the game was over inside 20 minutes, as Hawke’s Bay ripped them to shreds in the opening exchanges and led 31-0.

Turbos coach Mike Rogers had called the loss to Harbour their worst performance of the year, but now he said the Hawke’s Bay game was worse.

He put the poor defence down to a combination of factors, with all the changes to the team each week not helping.

They’d been hampered by injuries, with 12 players out for the Hawke’s Bay game and now prop Joe Gavigan would miss the last two games after breaking his hand against the Magpies.

It was the third broken hand in the squad this season along with midfielder Kyle Brown and flanker Elyjah Crosswell.

“We’ve had a different midfield combination every game the last four or five games,’ Rogers said. “Guys have been getting injured or are not playing well. The boys have been tired.”

The loose forward trio, Slade McDowall, Brayden Iose and TK Howden, had been among the standouts this year but had had a massive workload.

“It’s the nature of the competition,” Rogers said. “It’s brutal with three five-day turnarounds all the time.”

Rogers said all the changes meant there was a lack of cohesion on attack and defence. He was yet to settle on who his best starting XV was, but had a fair idea about most positions.

He said he had to acknowledge where the team was at and they needed to get better.

“I put my hand up and take responsibility. We were poor. It’s really tough to take that and we’ve got a couple of weeks to grow our game.

Manawatū coach Mike Rogers is frustrated that his side suffered another loss.

Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

Manawatū coach Mike Rogers is frustrated that his side suffered another loss.

“Let’s really simplify things and have one or two areas, on attack or defence, and hang our hat on those things … work hard for each other.

“I think we owe that to each other and the people of Manawatū to show a bit of fight.”

Again they lost ball at the breakdown and dropped ball. Hawke’s Bay even just ripped the ball off Manawatū ball carriers in the tackle.

Their scrum came under pressure in the second half against a strong Hawke’s Bay scrum.

A big loss was first five-eighth Brett Cameron, who missed the game after he hurt his ankle against North Harbour, but he should be fit to play Counties Manukau this weekend.

Wing Taniela Filimone had been out injured since the Auckland game but should be back this weekend, while promising youngster Waqa Nalaga still has concussion symptoms and was likely to miss the last two games.

Nalaga and first-five Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula had been signed by Fijian Drua Super Rugby side.

Many players in the squad were young and with short turnarounds most weeks this season, they had little training time.

“Where we are on the table is probably reflective of where we’re at. It’s a battle of attrition,” Rogers said.

Rogers was pleased they had a full week of training this week which could help them improve before they play Counties.

Prop Malakai Hala-Ngatai missed the Hawke’s Bay game with a shoulder niggle but should be fit for Counties.

Fullback Beaudein Waaka was Manawatū’s standout player and scored a stunning try in the first half to stop the Hawke’s Bay onslaught, cutting through the defence.

After his try Manawatū showed more fight at the back end of the first half and trailed 31-7 at halftime.

Hawke’s Bay 57 (Marino Mikaele-Tu’u 2, Brad Weber 2, Sam Smith, Nick Grigg, Ollie Sapsford, Sam Wye tries; Lincoln McClutchie 7 con, pen) Manawatū 7 (Beaudein Waaka try; Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula con) HT: 31-7.

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