Otago into semis after Waikato tie

Despite a hiccup in yesterday morning’s division-topping clash against Auckland, there was still one point between Otago, which secured a semifinal clash against in-form North Harbour, and third-placed Wellington.

Manawatu-Whanganui jumped out of the pack to edge Canterbury for second place in division one of the national interprovincial championships and will take on Auckland in the other semifinal.

Auckland continued its unbeaten run with a draw against a tenacious Wellington outfit which needed a win and for Otago to remain scoreless for the day.

Wellingtonian helped itself by emphatically ending Waikato’s semfinals chances in the morning 4-1 and boosting its games tally above Otago in the case of a tie.

Otago’s 4-1 loss to Auckland in the morning again highlighted the form of No4 Ben Patston who won to take his tally to six wins from as many games.

Against Waikato — needing at least a half to shut out Wellington— Otago was slow out of the blocks and trailed Waikato 3-2 at the turn.

Despite taking 27 holes to fire up as a team, Otago did so when it mattered most.

No5 Sungwoo Han’s second win of the tournament — a 3 and 2 dfeat of Jack Trower — was timely and a momentum changer for the side.

That was soon followed by captain Brandan Hodgson’s 5 and 4 victory over Tane Robson which set it up for one of the three players still on course to earn the win.

With No1 Inia Logan losing 4 and 3 and Jonny Mackay going down fighting on the 17th, attention turned to the in-form Patston who had battled his way back from being three down through the first five holes to one up with two holes to play.

A missed green on the 17th proved costly for Patston resulting in an opportunity for Ben Slaven on the 18th.

Patston then found trouble off the tee but when Slaven missed the green long and failed to get up and down, the match finished all square.

The tied result allowed Otago to progress to the semifinals.

Otago will need to be at its best if it is to overcome North Harbour which has come through the pool of death unbeaten with six wins and a half.

Play gets under way at 7.30am.

 - Michael Minty

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