Coach lauds Whalers’ efforts

A gallant Otago Whalers side battled to a 36-20 loss to Counties-Manukau in Auckland yesterday.

The visitors were reduced to 12 men when Keenan Masina was red-carded in the 25th minute for striking a touch judge.

The incident happened off camera and there was some initial confusion from the Sky commentary team, who also missed the incident.

They reported the player had felt the contact was accidental but the officials viewed it as foul play.

The score was locked 6-6 at the time. Otago showed a lot of character but faded late.

Whalers coach David Reedy said Masina was "one of the nicest guys and probably our most humble player in the team, to be fair".

"He just got off the ground and turned around to run back onside and bumped into the touch judge," Reedy said.

"He will front the judiciary now. I think the report sheet will come out on Tuesday and what he is charged with will come out on Wednesday.

"But, becasue it was not on camera, it is not looking good for him because generally they will go off the touch judge’s report."

Despite the setback, Otago put in an impressive effort which bodes well ahead of their home game against the Canterbury Bulls at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Sunday.

"We played 55 minutes with 12 players and still nearly managed to win."

Counties pounced following the red card with a try to William Tuhikiterangi Pompey and led 12-8 at the break.

The intercept king Jordan McEntee cut off the passing lane and the halfback sprinted in from 50 to score shortly after the resumption.

But the home team took advantage of its numerical advantage and ran in a couple of tries to pulled out to a 26-14 lead.

The Whalers rallied with a try to prop Mika Mafi to set up a potential tense finish.

But Manu Fatialofa got himself in support and flopped over and Phranklyn Mano-Le-Mame ran in a late try to blowout the final margin.


NZRL Premiership

The scores

Counties-Manukau             36

Ngarima Pita, William Tuhikiterangi Pompey, Filipo Utai, Geronimo Tubruq Doyle, Akuila Tuha, Manu Fatialofa, Phranklyn Mano-Le-

Mame tries; Tuhikiterangi Pompey 3 con, Reece Joyce con.

Otago Whalers                    20

Misinale Fifita, Jordan McEntee, Mika Mafi tries; McEntee 3 con, pen.

Halftime:   12-8