Loss extends poor record in playoffs

Otago has played 11 playoff games in the provincial championship since 2012 and won only three.
Otago has played 11 playoff games in the provincial championship since 2012 and won only three.
The weekend did not make it any easier to stomach Otago’s loss on Friday night.

But Otago supporters should by now be well and truly used to losing in the playoffs.

The men in blue and gold do not have a great playoff record. The side has played 11 playoff games in the provincial championship since 2012 and won only three.

Otago went down 32-19 to Northland in a Mitre 10 Cup Championship semifinal at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday night.

With the defeat, Otago blew its chance to get out of the Championship and will be stuck in the bottom division for another year.

To add to the depression is the fact in the three other semifinals, played on Saturday, the home teams all won.

Auckland beat Waikato 23-18 at Eden Park, Hawke’s Bay ended up smashing Taranaki 59-23 in Napier and Tasman beat Bay of Plenty 19-10 in a dreary match in Nelson.

Hawke’s Bay will now host Northland on Friday night in Napier in the Championship final while Auckland will take on defending champion Tasman at Eden Park in the Premiership final.

Otago will this week undergo its review of the season and look back on what went wrong and what it could have been done better.

If Northland gets up and beat Hawke’s Bay on Friday night — admittedly unlikely — it will get promoted to the top tier.

That would mean all but one union of the 14 provincial unions in the country have played in the top division since the competition was split into two in 2011. That union — Otago.

Otago has been in the full playoffs every year bar one since 2012.

In 2011, the season was played in a tight window and only straight finals — one against two — were played.

Apart from 2014, when Otago had a disappointing season, Otago has always made the playoffs in the past nine seasons.

Only Tasman — with nine playoff appearances — has had been in the playoffs more than Otago.

Canterbury is tied with Otago with eight appearances while Auckland and Wellington have made seven playoff appearances since 2012.

Otago was looking to make the playoffs this year and go the whole way but after last Friday night it will have to wait another year, it it gets the chance.

The Otago side though only has itself to blame this season after going off the rails in the past three games, losing to Southland, Tasman and then Northland.

New Zealand Rugby is reviewing the structure of the provincial competition as it looks to cut costs and changes may be on their way.


 

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