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Otago Country has finished its representative campaign with a gritty 28-24 win over South Canterbury A, overcoming being down to 12 men at one stage.
The Otago Country side controlled the first half at Waikouaiti, scoring the opening two tries through midfielder Hayden Todd and an intercept to winger Sylvester Reeves.
South Canterbury piled the pressure on at scrum time and managed to win penalty after penalty and made occasional inroads into the Country half.
South Canterbury winger Rob Wigley opened his side's account midway through the first half before Ben Maxwell added an extra three points
Replacement loose forward Danny Hurring made immediate impact when he crossed from close range to extend Otago Country's lead as halftime approached. South Canterbury got the last say in the half though through flanker Eafou Taglala, who scored by the posts on the halftime whistle to bring the score to 22-14.
South Canterbury came out with more attitude and fire in the second half and controlled possession. The South Canterbury side was rewarded when prop Garret Casey fell over the try line from a metre out to put his side back in the contest.
Otago Country's defence was very hard to crack, and Maxwell kicked another penalty to give Country a 25-19 lead.
But shortly afterwards the Country team had 12 players on the field.
When South Canterbury were hot on attack Todd was yellow carded for a no-arms tackle. South Canterbury kicked for the corner and from the ensuing ruck Country replacement flanker Connor Mills was also yellow carded for a cynical infringement.
South Canterbury was hot on attack against 13 men and did manage to cross the line through replacement Ryan McNab. The conversion was missed to give Country a one-point lead with six minutes left. Otago Country then had prop Fergus Smith given a red card for being a little too excited with his boots at ruck time, leaving Country with 12 men on the park for around five minutes.
But Country attacked and forced a penalty which Maxwell converted. South Canterbury attacked for the final phases as both sin-binned players returned, but Country was not to be beaten.
This match showed that the desire, heart and ticker in this Otago Country side is at a high level, bouncing back from a horrible outing last week.
The side was missing upwards of 10 first-string selections.
In a total team effort, lock Dean Sinnamon led from the front. He did everything required of him and more. Captain Maxwell was once again at his inspirational best. Winger Reeves had a very good rep season. Hurring and Matt Sullivan added plenty off the bench.
South Canterbury No8 Etienne van Zyl had a very strong game. He carried well and was dominant in the ruck. Lock Matt Stewart and first five George Williams tried their hardest to be positive and make a difference.
- Francis Parker