Feilding’s younger rugby players lead the cheers for the ManawatÅ« Turbos playing at Manfeild.
It was more country casual than city glamour as the Manawatū Turbos claimed their first win of the season over the Southland Stags at Manfeild Park in Feilding on Sunday.
About 2500 people ventured into the makeshift stadium for a close-up view of the match.
It was a windy day, with a 35kph westerly sweeping across the ground, and the roar of motor racing in the background.
But it did not rain, and the sun peeped out at times from a largely overcast sky.
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The Turbos are playing their final two Mitre 10 Cup home games at Feilding because of concerns about whether the CET Arena could be prepared in time after the night before’s speedway, which was rained off on Saturday night anyway.
There were no complaints about the facilities from fans spoken to by Stuff, with several people saying they were there because it was so handy to see the rugby in Feilding.
Recently-engaged couple Samantha Ellery and Pearse McGougan set up with an extensive picnic within metres of play.
McGougan followed the rugby more often than his fiancee, and they both said they turned up on Sunday because it was so local and easy to get to, and they liked the friendly, casual atmosphere.
In front row seats were a collection of younger age grade rugby players from Feilding’s Saturday morning teams.
Manawatū Rugby Union Chairman Tim Myers said he was pleased with the turnout, and with the experiment to bring the Turbos out into the region for more spectators to enjoy.
“We are looking forward to next week and getting the support of the community against Taranaki.”
Manawatū mayor Helen Worboys said it was an awesome day.
She said she was immensely grateful to everyone who had worked so hard and quickly to create the venue.
“I’m really proud … lots of people said we could not make a professional rugby field, but they did.”
Worboys said it was a great promotion of grassroots rugby.
It also showcased what a versatile venue Manfeild was, and got the community talking about its potential.
The fact the Turbos won, 24-12, was the icing on the cake, and she hoped having such close-up encouragement from the home crowd had helped boost the players’ performance.
There would be a de-brief on the event before next weekend’s match, which starts at 4.35pm at the end of the Manawatū A and P show.
“So hopefully people who come to the show will stay on.”