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The Kia Toa Tigers and Dunedin Bears continued their strong run of form in the Otago competition at the Oval on Saturday.
The Tigers ran away with a 56-32 triumph over the Raiders.
The Tigers forwards put on a dominant performance in the high-scoring encounter, allowing recently returned playmakers Vila Apu’ula and Taua Piri to direct play and dictate the terms of the contest.
The structured play provided space for the Tigers backs, and winger Cooper Keach benefited from the space created by scoring two tries.
Shane Unahi was another to benefit from the direction in attack, as he nabbed three tries through strong individual efforts in a man-of-the-match performance.
The Raiders lifted in the second half of the game though, and managed to score plenty of points of their own, through their elusive outside backs.
Centre Willie Time showed his capabilities in scoring two long-range tries and regularly threatened to break through the Tigers defence.
Prop Ben Rumble put in a standout performance, providing solid defence and taking hard carries to gain metres for his side on attack.
The Tigers’ 10 tries were enough to account for the six scored by the Raiders, but both sides will be disappointed to have conceded a large amount of points.
Raiders coach David Reedy said the Tigers’ performance showed why they are back-to-back champions and lauded their ability to make the most of the opportunities that were presented to them.
The Bears defeated University 34-22 in a challenging contest. University’s hopes were bolstered with the return of several players from the New Zealand Universities UK tour, but the Bears were not the welcoming party the students might have been hoping for.
University opened the account early in the match, when centre Brooklan Niwa scored after a sustained period of attacking pressure.
The Bears remained composed and soon regained momentum.
The University forward pack worked tirelessly, with second rower Josh Mckenzie leading the way on defence, bringing up the line and making countless dominant tackles to contain the Bears attack.
McKenzie found support from prop Tyson Ball, who had an immense impact after coming on from the interchange, busting through several tackles in his rampaging runs.
The Bears forwards were up to the task also. Camrin Brown and Marcel Taani led the charge and provided the platform for the backs to launch. Owen Draper took advantage and his kicks applied further pressure on the University defenders.
The standout for the Bears, and the major attacking threat, was Ellery Fruean. He had multiple tackle busts and line breaks as a result of his destructive ball running and clever footwork, which allowed the Bears to make massive inroads in the second half of the contest.
The strong second-half showing proved the difference, as the Bears edged the students by 12 points at fulltime.
- By Ricki Allan