Counties Manukau continued their march for the ITM Cup Championship with a fortunate 31-28 escape against Manawatu at FMG Stadium.
Playing as though the points were theirs by turning up, the South of Auckland team used their halftime rev-up to drastically turn around the contest and edge the struggling Turbos and pick up the bonus point win through four second half tries.
It was an old fashioned game of two distinct halves.
The green and whites didn't let the common consensus of a healthy beating bother them in the slightest, controlling the first exchanges, offloading in the tackle often to the flurry of straight running support.
With twice the usual options, Tomasi Cama played the conductor, finding holes out of cracks for his runners.
After Craig Clare's earlier penalty, the Turbos were beating the clock at 10-0 with the Manawatu's leading club scorer Willie Paia'aua continuing in the same vain, sliding in from the simple overlap from the pack's earlier charges.
DJ Forbes' men couldn't find any continuity, stray passes compounding their lack of direction around the fringes.
As if they had believed their own hype, the Steelers were seriously lacking by their previous standard and found themselves a baker's dozen down after the opening quarter, looking lazy and individual.
Feeling Tana Umaga's stare burning through the coaches box, Counties started to use the ball, and had the field position to make hay but found themselves isolated or dropping the ball cold with the opposition on the back foot.
A high tackle under the black dot gave Manawatu the well deserved 16-3 lead at the turn and the thumbs up for their positive and committed approach.
At the outset of the second half, the only change was the direction the players ran as Counties spoiled a hat-trick of golden chances to get back into the match.
Bundee Aki showed his mates how it was done as he cut back on an unstoppable burst from the five metre scrum and shades of last week's second half Otago onslaught emerged as the guests started to become unwelcome, finally finding accuracy.
The promise was short-lived.
More mistakes plagued the visitors and Nehe Milner-Skudder found himself on the end of a deft touch from replacement Lewis Marshall and skimmed the touchline to extend the lead to 13 at 23-10.
A moment of magic gave Sherwin Stowers a short dart to the line after Forbes' bullocking run through the centre and the game was back where it was three minutes prior.
Struggling with his goal kicking all night, Baden Kerr made sure he got his next, stepping inside the covering defence from the ten metre lineout win to score under the bar to continue the cluster of scoring.
With the lead gone for the first time, the Turbos started to look flaky, making the errors they were previously forcing and getting pelted by the referee as they struggled at the ruck.
A second converted try to Aki after a failed scrum midfield was the hammer to put the nail in the coffin for the Turbos who remarkably resuscitated through Marshall only to fall short in a frantic finish that gave them a miracle chance.
28 (W.Paia'aua, N.Milner-Skudder,
L.Marshall tries; C.Clare 2 cons; Clare 3 pens)
Counties Manukau 31 (B.Aki 2, S.Stowers, B.Kerr tries; B.Kerr 4 cons; Kerr pen)