Coach upbeat after big loss for Otago

Northland winger Jordan Hyland scores in the tackle of Otago halfback Rowan Gouws in Whangarei...
Northland winger Jordan Hyland scores in the tackle of Otago halfback Rowan Gouws in Whangarei yesterday.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Otago coach Ben Herring is putting his side on the front foot and says he is confident it can go to Hawke's Bay next weekend and do the business.

Otago did not have a great dress rehearsal for the Mitre 10 Cup semifinal yesterday, losing 40-10 to Northland in Whangarei in its final game of the regular season.

The semifinal will be played on Saturday at 4.35pm in Napier.

Otago had nothing to play for in the winterless north yesterday. It was always going to finish third in the championship.

Once Hawke's Bay lost 47-28 to Tasman in Napier on Saturday afternoon, Otago knew it would face Hawke's Bay in Napier in the semifinal.

Otago was well off the pace against a Northland team whose win consigned Southland to last place in the cup.

Herring said there was always the potential for things to go wrong and once Northland started well, with a couple of good carries and attacks, it was on the front foot.

"The disappointing thing is that it did happen. We had made changes in some areas so it was possible. But looking at the positive, it does give us a good edge this week," Herring said.

"We've got to let it go and move on."

He said Otago would go into the game with some confidence against Hawke's Bay.

"I think this week we want to create that edge. Get away from our conservative roots and back ourselves to go up there and get a job done."

Herring would welcome back key forwards such as Slade McDowall and Josh Dickson along with captain and fullback Michael Collins. Halfback Kayne Hammington is expected out of his moon boot this week and is a chance to play.

The inside back combination of Vilimoni Koroi and Josh Ioane at first five-eighth and second five-eighth had few chances yesterday but Herring said it might be used in Napier with few other options.

Lock Louis Conradie came off early yesterday because of a blow to the knee but it is not believed to be too serious.

Yesterday's game was as good as over by halftime, when the home team led 26-5.

The Otago attack lacked accuracy and ran across field too much. As is standard in games these days, the offside line for the defence was flexible at best.

The field was puggy and hard to get any speed on and there were some tired legs at the end.

Northland defended well, which had not been a hallmark of its game, and there were not many line breaks from the visitors.

Taylor Haugh tried to make something happen from the back, while Purdy showed some dash.

Up front, lock Josh Hill got involved but the scrum was creaky and neither team dominated at the breakdown.

In other games, Wellington beat Waikato 39-21 and Manawatu beat Counties-Manukau 33-17.

Canterbury held on to the Ranfurly Shield, scoring a try in the final minute to beat North Harbour 31-25.

In the other championship semifinal, Bay of Plenty will host Manawatu.

In the premiership, Tasman will host Auckland, while Wellington will play Canterbury in the capital.

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