Whalers too good for Coast

Otago Whalers wing Willie Time brushes past West Coast’s Navare Jacobs to score in the corner...
Otago Whalers wing Willie Time brushes past West Coast’s Navare Jacobs to score in the corner during their rugby league match at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The Otago Whalers continued their winning ways with a 22-6 victory over the West Coast Chargers at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

The first half tested the defensive composure of the Whalers, and several penalties gave the West Coast Chargers five consecutive sets on attack. However, the Whalers passed the test and kept Chargers scoreless in the first half. Man of the match Willie Time opened the scoring for Otago, getting on the end of a well-directed cut-out pass from Tama Apineru and scoring on the right edge just minutes into the contest. Time ran the ball well all day, breaking the line and opening up play.

Apii Taia was next to score. Having terrorised the defenders with strong ball carries, Taia took a charging run near the tryline and bumped off the first line of defence before spinning out of the ensuing cover tackle and grounding the ball in the in-goal. Owen Draper closed out the scoring for the first half, going on an incisive run before offloading to lock Hagan Free and following up on Free’s inside shoulder and getting the ball back again before tearing away and diving under the posts. Louis Tili’s second successful conversion put Otago in a dominant position at 16-0 which was the halftime score.

The Chargers were able to hold out the Whalers’ attack for the majority of the second half, and some bungled opportunities to score left the home side frustrated. Free was a standout in the second half, and he continued to dominate the middle of the field with multiple carries and an impressive 46 tackles. Free was well supported by second-row duo Josh McKenzie and Jong Hoon Lee,  both men racking up almost 30 tackles to secure their edges. Tama Apineru used pace and footwork to get on the outside of his opposite man and then fended through the line to score in the left corner. Tili’s conversion put the Whalers up 22-0.  A lapse in defence allowed the Chargers to score late in the game in the left corner through some good finishing.

Coach David Reedy was really proud of the way the team defended, saying "it felt like we spent the majority of the game on defence, and to concede just one try towards the end of the game was a huge effort". Reedy acknowledged  the attack still  needed work after the side managed to score some good tries but bungled multiple opportunities. In the other game of the South Island Premiership, the Southland Rams edged the Aoraki Eels 30-28 at Ashbury Park in Timaru.

- Ricki Allan

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