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Halfback Anthony Arty scored a late try to enable North Otago to snatch a vital bonus point against a strong Wanganui side.
The visiting side won the game 27-20 in Oamaru on Saturday.
North Otago coach Jason Forrest had mixed emotions.
"We got a bonus point, which keeps us in touch," he said.
"But it was also frustrating so we've got a fair bit to fix up before next week's Hanan Shield clash with Mid Canterbury.
"We need 10 points from our two final games and there may be a couple of other games in which a couple of teams might knock themselves out of contention."
A strong nor'westerly made conditions difficult.
But Wanganui handled the conditions better early on in the game.
After dominating the first 10 minutes, Wanganui half Lindsay Horrocks scored an unconverted try.
Two minutes later Wanganui blindside flanker Campbell Hart finished off a movement and first five-eighth Dane Whale added the conversion.
North Otago halfback Robbie Smith replied with a penalty and then pivot George Witana placed a perfect cross kick for left winger Taina Tamou, who beat a couple of defenders to score.
The final exchanges of the half saw Wanganui tighthead prop Wiremu Cottrell score and Whale add a penalty to give Wanganui a 20-10 lead.
Midway through the second half, Wanganui used its pace out wide for Vereniki Tikoisolomone to out pace the defence.
North Otago refused to give up and in the last 10 minutes prop Ralph Darling burst across.
Lemi Masoe, who was playing his 100th game for North Otago, raised the noise with a dropkick conversion.
North Otago continued to attack and replacement halfback Arty scurried in for a try to gain the vital bonus point.
"The last 10 minutes in my mind were quite outstanding, as we began playing as a unit," Forrest said,
"But there was too much individuality prior to that.
"It's frustrating but we know we can play better.
"We had a good debrief out on the paddock after the game, so the message has been given.
"We showed just what we can do in the last 10 minutes but Wanganui is a very good side and to get within five points of them was an achievement."
In the other games, West Coast defeated East Coast 21-19, South Canterbury edged King Country 21-19, Horowhenua-Kapiti beat Poverty Bay 38-28, Thames Valley beat Mid Canterbury 31-17 and Wairarapa-Bush held on to beat Buller 20-17.
- Terry O'Neill