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Patience and a strong finish late in the second half enabled North Otago to retain its unbeaten run in the Heartland Championship.
It rallied from a halftime deficit of 14-24 with a late try to replacement forward Ralph Darling, giving the Old Golds a 34-30 win on Saturday.
North Otago co-coach Jason Forrest said it was not a pretty 80 minutes of rugby.
"To be fair, it was a pretty ugly game," he said.
"We did not play very well but we'll take the five points.
"Honestly, we gutsed it out in the second half after Poverty Bay had been all over us in the first half.
"But Nick [Anderson] and I have got confidence that this team can come back and our fitness carried us through.
"In the second half we got back into our processes and that carried us home."
Darling made an impact when he came on in the second half.
Midfielder Clement Gasca, despite picking up a yellow card, was outstanding. He was filling in for the experienced Lemi Masoe, who was unavailable because of work commitments.
First five-eighth Mike Williams picked up an injury, though, and will probably miss the next match.
Poverty Bay was 10 points up after 10 minutes. Enterprising fullback Andrew Tuatevalu opened the scoring with a penalty and two minutes later was in for a try.
North Otago responded almost immediately, Williams crossing for a try.
Poverty Bay right winger Nathan Rangihana added a second try which Tuatevalu converted.
North Otago lock Charles Elton kept his side in touch with a try five minutes from halftime.
Smith added the conversion but, three minutes before halftime, North Otago conceded a penalty try to give the home side a 24-14 lead at the break.
North Otago finished the stronger of the two in the last quarter. Darling scored in the final five minutes to seal a tense win.
In other results, Buller edged Whanganui 22-21, South Canterbury dispatched Horowhenua-Kapiti 57-7, Thames Valley beat East Coast 43-15, Wairarapa-Bush downed King Country 37-31 and the West Coast defeated Mid Canterbury 43-41.
- Terry O'Neill