Manawatu caused a major upset in the Mitre 10 Cup on Saturday when they beat Canterbury 19-13 in Palmerson North.
It was a 77th minute try borne out of a desperate ploy under a penalty advantage that produced a controversial finish which saw Manawatu achieve what no other side had looked like achieving this season.
Full-back Jason Emery slipped a grubber kick towards the Canterbury in-goal and as replacement wing Johnny McNicholl was unable to ground the ball. While it took several views by the TMO to make that finding, there was no doubt that hard-working lock Jackson Hemopo was rewarded for a day of industry by following up and sprawling out to touch the ball down for the try.
Manawatu took the game, played in wet, and slippery, conditions to Canterbury and bustled them in a way that has rarely been achieved in recent times. Under the circumstances Canterbury looked vulnerable and while it appeared 20 minutes from time that the old formula of storming home in the final quarter was going to succeed.
But Manawatu had different ideas.
Canterbury found themselves in the rare position of being down at half-time after Manawatu first five-eighths Otere Black landed three penalty goals to two landed by Canterbury's Richie Mo'unga.
Canterbury attempted to up the tempo in the second 40 but transgressed one time too many at the breakdown and in the 46th minute captain and number eight Luke Whitelock was sent to the sin-bin.
Of all things it was a missed penalty goal by Mo'unga that rebounded into play from a goalpost that provided Canterbury's chance.
Black attempted a clearance, but Canterbury took a quick throw and Barrett found wide open spaces to set up a concerted period of phase play with a notable injection of impetus from Whitelock into the Manawatu 22m area.
As the ball emerged Mo'unga made the double pump to drag in the defence and leave the slightest gap on the outside for wing George Bridge to give over in the corner. Mo'unga extended the lead to four points with a fine conversion from the sideline.
Manawatu refused to be bowed and there was some desperation as Canterbury attempted to cover break-outs by centre Ngani Laumape and replacement wing Nathan Tudreu, both of which made their impact on Barrett and Mo'unga respectively.
Pens: Black 4
Pens: Mo'unga 2
Manawatu: 15 Jason Emery, 14 Curtis Reid, 13 Ngani Laumape, 12 Hamish Northcott, 11 Ambrose Curtis, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 7 Callum Gibbins (c), 6 Harrison Brewer, 5 Jackson Hemopo, 4 Tom Parsons, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Travis Taylor, 1 Fraser Armstrong
Replacements: 16 Hunter Prescott, 17 Tukiterangi Raimona, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Liam Hallam-Eames, 20 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Sam Malcolm, 23 Nathan Tudreu
Canterbury: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Marshall Suckling, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Ere Enari, 8 Luke Whitelock (c), 7 Jed Brown, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Tom Crozier, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 David McDuling, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl