Old Golds dip out in tight game

Jason Forrest
Jason Forrest
Close encounters have been part of North Otago's recent history.

Last week North Otago snatched a 22-21 win over Thames Valley in Oamaru, but on Saturday in Greymouth the shoe was on the other foot.

West Coast grabbed an 18-17 victory over the Old Golds, who had to be content with a solitary competition point at John Sturgeon Park.

North Otago coach Jason Forrest was adamant his team threw it away through taking wrong options, despite outscoring the home side three tries to two.

''It means that although we are still in the chase with three rounds remaining to decide where we finish, we've got a big challenge next week when we meet Whanganui at home, before hosting Mid Canterbury the following week and then travelling to Ruatoria to play East Coast.

''So we've got opportunities to pick up points. But today we certainly gave the game away.''

West Coast broke the ice after 16 minutes when hooker Troy Tauwhare touched down for an unconverted try, answered by the visiting side two minutes later with a try to five-eighth Lachie Kingan

Eight minutes later, West Coast lock Tumama Tu'ulua barged across for his side's second try, which midfielder Sean McClure converted.

North Otago fullback Patrick Pati kept his side in touch with a try in the 13th minute and Robbie Smith's conversion levelled the scores at 12-12.

Left winger Taina Tamou raised North Otago's hopes with a try three minutes into the second half to push the score to 17-12.

But McClure made the most of West Coast's territorial control and, in the 53rd and 74th minutes, added two penalties to make it 18-17 to the home team.

The Heartland Championship is warming up. With three rounds remaining, five points cover the top eight teams.

North Otago, West Coast and South Canterbury have 18 points, followed by Thames Valley on 16 and Buller and Wairarapa Bush, both on 15. Whanganui and Poverty Bay are seventh and eighth on 13 points.

In other games, Whanganui defeated East Coast 67-24, Horowhenua-Kapiti beat King Country 36-19 and Thames Valley downed Wairarapa-Bush 29-23.

Poverty Bay beat Mid Canterbury 52-38 and South Canterbury defeated Buller 38-27 in Timaru.

-By Terry O'Neill

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