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Otago beat Counties-Manukau 40-22 at Forsyth Barr Stadium after it led 21-8 at the break and with the win went to the top of the table, tied with Hawke’s Bay.
Josh Timu and Josh Dickson scored a couple of tries each while Josh Ioane bagged over five conversions as Otago won in a match where it went to sleep for periods.
The visiting side came back from being 21-3 down a minute before halftime to be ahead 22-21, quarter of an hour into the second half.
But Otago went back to its set piece and hung to the ball to pull ahead again and eventually win by a comfortable margin.
Otago coach Tom Donnelly praised his side’s resilience to get out of a hole in the second half and not go away from the game plan.
"Like all our games here we start really well, and luckily today we were able to score some points.
"But I’m really pleased we were able to turn that around and got back to our game and able to finish it off.
"We just had to stick to our plan, play a bit of structure.
"We knew if we could get our set piece working we could play off the back of that and be really clinical at the breakdown."
He was never worried the side would lose as it was just about backing the game plan.
He praised the scrambling and character on defence.
"We talked about it all week, if we played well there would be opportunities there.
"Everyone was talking out there and staying composed and points would come."
Otago will look to back up its first home win of the season on Friday when it takes on Northland at the stadium.
Donnelly said the short turnaround would be tough but he would see how the players washed up this morning.
Four games to go and the side was in a good position but Donnelly said there was still plenty of rugby left to play.
Josh Timu and Liam Coltman were impressive for Otago as was winger Jona Nareki.
In other games, Bay of Plenty beat Manawatu 53-35, Wellington downed North Harbour 25-20, Auckland defeated Tasman 31-10 and Waikato upset Canterbury 16-15.