One try enough in tough encounter

Nigel Walsh
Nigel Walsh
In a tight defensive exhibition of rugby Wanganui scored the only try of the game to defeat North Otago 10-6 in a tense 80 minutes.

Both sides were in a defensive mode and created few scoring opportunities as they displayed safety first, which restricted the willingness to take chances and risks. Consequently, three penalty goals and one conversion did little to rouse the supporters from both sides.

North Otago coach  Nigel Walsh believed  North Otago had sufficient opportunities to  win the game and the scoreline did not really describe the intensity of both sides.

"We played a very physical game today.

"The forward pack took control there and the backs put us into right areas to take the win.

"We thought in the second half that we could use the strong wind.

"The defensive patterns from both sides were very very good and that cancelled out a lot of team play and the swirling wind was pretty difficult for both sides.

"It was hard to play in it but we had our opportunities.

"We had enough ball as did the opposition but the defence from both sides was pretty good today and nobody could break the line except on one occasion in the first 10 minutes when the Wanganui blindside flanker from broken play scored the only try of the game with fullback Nick Harding adding the conversion."

North Otago took a 3-0 lead after six minutes when fullback Josh Buchan kicked a penalty from a handy position but the home team held that 7-3 lead through to halftime.

Buchan early in the second half kicked his second penalty to narrow the gap to one point.

Walsh believed  low scoring games are not necessarily boring.

"You’ve only got to look at that four all draw with King Country last season.

"There were only eight points scored and it was a far from boring exhibition.

"Today the boys ran at each other.

"They tried hard on both sides and I told my boys that I couldn’t have expected any more of them.

"They gave it heart and soul and put their bodies on the line.

"You know it was just one kick separating two good sides.

"But we’ve got to focus on next week now and change our focus on to the Lochore Cup and we’ll go from there."

Harding then kicked a penalty  midway through the second half to take his side to 10-6 and that remained the score until the final whistle.

"We’ve still got plenty to play for.

"We won the Lochore Cup last season so now we’ve got to refocus on a Lochore Cup semifinal next Saturday against West Coast in Greymouth."

The Heartland semi finals brought changes and so surprises. In the Meads Cup semifinals next Saturday top qualifier South Canterbury, which beat East Coast, 45-7,  plays fourth placed Wanganui in Timaru.

In the other semifinal Horowhenua-Kapiti, which beat Buller 30-26,  meets third placed Buller  in a replay in Levin.

In the Lochore Cup semifinals North Otago  travels to Greymouth to meet West Coast which beat Wairarapa-Bush 36-26.  Mid Canterbury, which beat King Country 43-38, plays fourth placed Poverty Bay which upset Thames Valley 35-34 .

- Terry O'Neill


Heartland Championship
The scores

Wanganui 10

Tremaine Gilbert try; Nick Harding pen, con

North Otago  6

Josh Buchan 2 pen

Halftime: 7-3 Wanganui

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