Central Otago comes out tops, retains cup

Southern Region No 8 Cole Birse latches on to his Central Otago counterpart, Dean Sinnamon,...
Southern Region No 8 Cole Birse latches on to his Central Otago counterpart, Dean Sinnamon, during a Topp Cup match in Lawrence yesterday. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
Central Otago has retained the Topp Cup with a 18-15 win over Southern Region in Lawrence.

Central had the lion's share of territory and possession but its execution and discipline on attack let it down. So many times, it would venture into the Southern red-zone but come away with nothing.

Southern defended well and forced the Central side into mistakes. Southern had opportunities in the first half but could not cross the line and was struggling to control its own set piece.

The score was deadlocked 3-3 at halftime after Nico Burgess and Brodie Flannery traded penalties.

The second half was a much more even affair, with both sides managing to hold on to the ball for large periods and venture deep into opposition territory.

Southern opened its try scoring account through centre Danny van der Voort after a strong break from his midfield partner, Jonny Sargent. Central hit back soon after, midfield replacement Hayden Todd crashing over from close range.

Flannery then knocked over a penalty to put Central 11-10 ahead with a quarter of the game remaining.

Discipline was once again becoming an issue, with both sides given warnings.

Central was the first side to see a yellow card as loose forward Adam Chamberlain was sent to the bin. Southern made the most of the numerical advantage at the following scrum, which allowed replacement halfback Josh Cook to pounce on a loose ball and score for Southern.

With the lead, Southern began to rush and not treasure possession. It threw needless passes and its ball security started to let it down.

Southern flanker Blair van der Voort was sent to the sin bin, which gave Central the ball and good field position. Centre Oliver Stirling crossed the line to put Central back in the lead and Brodie Flannery converted to make the score 18-15.

Central held on to the ball for the remaining minutes and took a well-earned win.

It was a hard-fought battle, but some individuals stood out.

Hooker Joe Cairns and Brodie Flannery were immense for the Central side. Flannery controlled the game very well and Cairns was into everything. Hayden Todd added much needed spark off the bench.

Second five-eighth Sargent was strong for Southern, as were the van der Voort brothers, Blair and Danny.

Southern recorded a 26-22 win in the Development game.

 - Francis Parker

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