Bench proves key in North Otago win

Lemi Masoe
Lemi Masoe
A strong second half and a change of tactics carried North Otago to a 34-12 win over Poverty Bay in a crucial Heartland game on Saturday.

North Otago went into the game poised at the bottom of the Lochore Cup segment, needing maximum points out of the game, with only East Coast and Whanganui remaining to be played. Coach Nigel Walsh was comfortable with the win.

"It wasn’t as clinical as we would have liked but we got what we needed, five competition points and our hopes are still alive," he said.

Astute use of the bench by North Otago after Poverty Bay came back from 24-0 to 24-12 in the third quarter  swung the game back North Otago’s way.

"We used all but two of our players  off the bench. I know it’s pretty tough on those players called off but we made an impact off the bench."

It is not often spectators cheer a scrum but North Otago supporters roared when, in what was to be the final scrum of the game, North Otago demolished the opposition and was awarded a penalty.

The roar increased when the ball was thrown to North Otago midfielder Lemi Masoe, who was playing his 100th first class game. Masoe coolly slotted the goal from outside the twenty two.

Walsh got what he expected from the visitors.

"We knew that Poverty Bay would be here to play. They came back strongly in the quarter after halftime with two tries and increased the pressure on us. We just had to get our hands on the ball and against the wind just work our way up the park. The boys did that and then finished them off."

After a scoreless first quarter, North Otago scored first, when No8 Josh Clark and fullback Josh Buchan broke down the left flank. Prop Ralph Darling was in support and he fired the final pass to hooker Petelo Pouhila, who scored.North  Otago scored almost straight away when winger Matthew Vocea intercepted a loose pass and ran 30m to score.

From the kickoff , North Otago first five-eighth Antini Brown hoofed the ball deep into Poverty Bay territory.

Left winger Aaron Martin scored a try just before the break and Buchan then knocked over a 50m penalty.

Poverty Bay came back in the third quarter with tries to lock Everard Reid and fullback Ethine Rees.

But then Buchan, Junior Fakatoufifita and Darling combined to send Fakatoufifita in for a try which Buchan converted to take North Otago out to a 31-12 lead.

In the curtain-raiser, the South Canterbury Development XV took the Hanan Cup, defeating North Otago Development XV, 24-17.

South Canterbury retains its position at the head of the competition after  a 45-38 win over West Coast in Greymouth.

Horowhenua-Kapiti’s 38-12 win over Wairarapa-Bush yesterday  enabled it to retain second spot in the Meads Cup section. Buller’s 54-17 win over East Coast in Ruatoria put it into third place with two rounds remaining.  Whanganui  beat King Country 80-3 to be  in fourth place.

In the Lochore Cup placings, Mid Canterbury holds top spot  after a 25-16 win over Thames Valley.

North Otago’s 34-12 win over Poverty Bay  carried it into second place, while West Coast and Thames Valley are in the other two spots.

- Terry O'Neill


Heartland Champs
The scores

North Otago            34

Petelo Pouhila, Matthew Vocea, Aaron Martin, Junior Fakatoufifita tries; Josh Buchan 4 con, pen; Lemi Masoe pen

Poverty Bay             12

Everard Reid, Ethine Reeves tries; Andrew Tauatevalu con

Halftime: 24-0

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