North Otago’s season on line in semi

Nigel Walsh
Nigel Walsh
North Otago meets West Coast in a Lochore Cup semifinal this afternoon but North Otago coach Nigel Walsh believes his side should have made the Meads Cup playoffs.

"Sure, we would love to have been playing in the Meads Cup but it hasn’t worked out for us. All we had to do was to win some some of  those games that were close but we weren’t able to do that," he said.

"So it’s in our hands. We’ve got to show this afternoon that we were good enough to be in the Meads Cup but it will take a dominant  performance this afternoon.

"Our highest losing margin has been seven points. That shows that we’ve done our homework on the opposition patterns and our defence has shut them down and kept them within these margins.

"We’ve done our homework on the West Coast as well. They have a big pack and they love driving their lineouts and getting the ball wide. They’re not going to be easybeats."

North Otago supporters can expect a change in the North Otago attack.

"During the season we’ve shown that we’ve got better and better all the way through. But the last couple of weeks we’ve been guilty of not playing some of our moves that we should have been playing.

"This afternoon is D-day so I’ll expect that the players will use them to the full and if we come up short then that’s the end of the season and that will be very disappointing. The team is better than that."

North Otago and West Coast did not meet in the qualifying round and in their most recent encounter in Greymouth  last year, West Coast took the honours convincingly.

This season, North Otago has won four of its eight games as opposed to West Coast’s five out of eight, although North Otago has a better differential.

But this afternoon points differential  will not  matter. The team in front at the final whistle moves on to the Lochore Cup final the following weekend.

Joe Pickett comes in as hooker, replacing Sam Sturgess who is out with an ankle injury. Matt Duff returns as the openside flanker in place of Morgan Dawes, while Kurow’s Harvard Fale  will lock the scrum with Josh Clark.

In the backs, Dan Lewis will start at first five-eighth and Oscar Pamment comes in at second five-eighth, substituting for Lio Lolo who, as a loan player, is not eligible as there are already three loan players in the team. Lisala Halaleva returns to the right wing after a shoulder injury.

On the bench, Maheno’s Mike Lawrence makes his debut while Kayne Middleton rejoins the bench.

In the other matches in Heartland rugby today, South Canterbury will meet  Whanganui in Timaru and Horowhenua-Kapiti will host Buller. In the Lochore Cup, Mid Canterbury as top qualifier will play Poverty Bay in Ashburton.

- Terry O'Neill


North Otago v West Coast
Greymouth, today, 2.30pm

North Otago: Josh Buchan, Lisala Halaleva, Lemi Masoe, Oscar Pamment, Matthew Vocea, Dan Lewis, Robbie Smith, Mika Mafi, Filipo Veamatahau, Josh Clark, Fale Havard, Meli Kolinisau, Joe Pickett, Ralph Darling (captain) Reserves: Petelo Pouhila, Anthony Kent, Junior Fakatoufifita, Mike Lawrence, Connor Newlands, Aatron Martin, Kayne Middleton.

West Coast: Robert Thomson, Regan Stanton, Sean McClure, Logan Heath, Peter Te Rakau, Tom Reekie, Nick Makea, Amenatave Tukana, Steven Soper, Brad Tauwhare, Isei Lewaqai, Joshua Manning, Daniel Davis, Troy Tauwhare, Dylan Turnbull. Reserves: Corey Flynn, Jesse McRae, David Crouchley, Rowan O’Gorman, Maleli Mudu, Joshua Tomlinson, Nathaniel Hamilton.

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