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A determined Otago Whalers side took the trip to Greymouth with plenty on the line in its game against the West Coast Chargers.
After a tune-up at training after last week's loss to Aoraki, the Whalers were well prepared and it showed as they started strongly at Wingham Park before winning 32-22.
It took the Whalers just two sets to find their rhythm, with prop Tyson Ball opening the scoring. The Chargers, however, were quick to hit back and brought the scores back even with a converted try.
Willie Time got over the line off the back of a sharp backline move, and as the game went on it looked like it was going to be a great day out for the Whalers.
Troy Anstiss, who normally plays dummy-half, found himself out on the wing, and some great shifting of the ball had Anstiss in a foreign land for a try, which put the Whalers up 16-6. The West Coast managed to score right on halftime, meaning the Whalers went into the break up 16-10.
The second half did not start to plan for the Whalers, an error on the kick-off reception putting the Chargers in great field position, which they were able to convert into points.
With the scores level again at 16-16, poor discipline began to creep into the Whalers game. Multiple penalties and a player sent to the sin bin had the Whalers against the ropes. However, the West Coast was only able to scavenge two points with the one-man advantage.
With the ball in hand, the Whalers looked sharp and were moving the ball well. Ben Hanara ran a superb line from a scrum move to score a tidy try and regain the lead for the Whalers.
The Chargers, as always, were not going to roll over easy, the arm wrestle continued as the West Coast hit back one last time to go-ahead 22-20. Frustration crept into the West Coast game and they also found themselves down to 12 men with prop Joe Lunn sin-binned for taking out a Whalers player without the ball.
The Whalers made the most of the one-man advantage with Hanara scoring his second try of the day. The Whalers looked like a different side from last week. Some brilliant defensive efforts from Cameron Todd and Time kept the West Coast out in what looked like certain try scoring opportunities. Another try to Ball sealed the win.
Coach David Reedy said ``coming to the Coast and walking away with a win is something the boys should be extremely proud of - it is not every day that happens''.
The team can take a lot of confidence out of the game as it prepares to take on an undefeated Southland Rams side, a win potentially taking the Whalers to the top of the South Island Championship.
The Whalers take on the Rams at Kensington Oval in Dunedin at 2pm on Saturday in the last round of the South Island Championship.
- Liam O'Brien