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Hawke's Bay struck when it needed to and ran out a 31-25 winner over Otago at Forsyth Barr Stadium last night.
The Mitre 10 Cup match was in the balance with 20 minutes left but the visiting side hit with two tries in four minutes to go from 20-19 behind to push into a 31-20 lead.
Fullback Vilimoni Koroi scored a nice try wide out and, with just over five minutes, left there looked a chance for the home team.
But Otago just could not get anything going in the final five minutes and came up short. Hawkes Bay held on to the ball and, with the new laws, Otago had virtually no chance to force a turnover.
The home team looked good in patches throughout the 80 minutes and showed it had threats out wide. It led 17-14 at the break but could not kick away in the second stanza.
Otago was guilty of missing too many tackles, especially in the first half, and the visiting team made the advantage line too easily with its big ball runners.
Referee Shuhei Kubo had some strange interpretations in his law book and how he did not yellow card Hawke's Bay winger Mason Emerson for a high tackle near the end was a real head-scratcher.
Best for Otago were hooker Sam Anderson-Heather and Tom Rowe in the forwards while Sione Misiloi made a fair job at playing in the new position of No8.
Out the back, Josh Ioane showed some good touches and outside him Sio Tomkinson did little wrong.
The game started slowly and both sides had a feeling-out period for the first 10 minutes.
But the visiting side swung on to attack and, from a lineout 5m out, scored the first try.
Hawke's Bay flanker Josh Kaifa grabbed the ball when it came down from the lineout and barged right through the Otago lineout to score.
But the home team struck back quickly and scored two converted tries within five minutes.
After a nice run from Jona Nareki, the ball was moved to the right and Tomkinson put in a deft chip kick. He regathered and in-passed to Ioane who scored.
Otago then swept down the field again and robbed Hawke's Bay of the ball when the visiting team was backpedalling. The ball was quickly shifted wide and flanker Naulia Dawai scored.
Otago though let itself down, its defence went to sleep and Hawke's Bay fullback Jamie Jerry Taufiga strolled over to score just before the half-hour mark.
Hawke's Bay went very close at the end of the first half but was held up over the line with Otago scrambling well on defence.