King Country ‘test’ for North Otago

Nigel Walsh.
Nigel Walsh.
North Otago coach Nigel Walsh is seeking some more consistency from his side as King Country journeys south to Oamaru.

Though it is still relatively early days in the Heartland Championship, this match is one North Otago needs to win. It is shaping as a fairly even competition, so winning home games is a priority for every team.

Walsh is not playing down the importance of this afternoon’s match.

"We’ve let two of our games slip away from us, so this game against King Country is really a test match for us this afternoon. Only one point separates the two sides," he said.

"Again we’ve got to stick to the game plan. They have got to realise that there are 15 of us out on the paddock, not just one or two.

"We’ll be also looking for an impact from the bench, as we did last week. We’ve got a strong bench this week. Against Buller trailing 10-27 at halftime the bench showed what impact it can produce when it pulled us up to a 31-30 lead late in the game."

Buller slotted a late dropped goal to win the game.

North Otago has made some changes for this match.

In the backs centre Sala Halaleva is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Lemi Masoe shifts to centre and Oscar Pamment goes to second five-eighth.

First five-eighth Dan Lewis returns to the side, after missing the Buller game with an ankle injury. Maheno’s Adam Johnson make his North Otago debut on the right wing.

In the forward pack Don Lolo comes in to lock the scrum with Tom McDonald, while Josh Clark moves on to the blindside flank and Filipo Veamatahau is on the bench.

"Don has been training with us throughout the  season but he is unable to travel to away games. So he gets a chance to see what he can bring to the side. Another Lolo, Lio, who has starred in the sevens game, joins the back reserves."

Former All Black halfback Alby Mathewson will turn out for King Country.

-Terry O'Neill


North Otago v King Country
Whitestone Contracting Stadium, today, 2pm

North Otago: Josh Buchan, Adam Johnson, Lemi Masoe, Matthew Vocea, Oscar Pamment, Dan Lewis, Robbie Smith, Mika Mafi, Matt Duff, Josh Clark, Tom McDonald, Don Lolo, Meli Kolinisau, Joe Pickett, Ralph Darling (captain) Reserves: Anthony Kent, Petelo Pouhila, Junior Fakatoufifita, Filipo Veamatahau, Inoke Naufahu, Antini Brown, Lio Lolo.

King Country: Kieron Rollinson, Alex Thrupp, Stephan Turner, Jesse Williams, Dean Church, Reece McDonald, Alby Mathewson, Anthony Wise, Ollie Kay, Mike Horricks, Aarin Dunster, Beau Taylor, Robbie Alabaster, Josh Dais, Carl Carmichael. Reserves: Sean Wanden, Adam Morris, Sisa Vosaki, Rob Sherson, Tovia Tufala, Stormy McCarthy, Ratu Vosaki.

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