Otago faces tough final after its bruising semi

Ben Herring
Ben Herring
Otago coach Ben Herring says he may have to look at a different training load this week as the side faces up to its third big game in as many weeks.

Otago qualified for the final of the Mitre 10 Cup championship after a narrow and rugged win over a tough and tenacious Hawke’s Bay side.

"I thought Hawke’s Bay was one of the better sides we have played against and their defence was awesome. So we’re stoked to have come away with the win," Herring said.

"We hung in there and fought for every inch and took what we needed to take. I thought they had the lever over us for three-quarters of the game, but we managed to sneak over a couple. There is something to be said about winning those games. It could be luck, fate, karma, spirit, anything. Just something there that tips you on the right side. It is good to have that."

The side fell behind after three minutes and Herring said the side started poorly for reasons which were not clear.

He felt the team had recovered well from the Ranfurly Shield win and the resulting celebrations, but Hawke’s Bay had come out firing and Otago could not match it.

"They were a class outfit, really, and we just stole it at the end."

He said the substitutions made helped, and there was a hope All Black hooker Liam Coltman would be available for the final against Waikato on Friday night.

The side was banged up after two hard games, against Waikato and then Hawke’s Bay.

"We always seem to get pretty bruised up here [at the stadium]. It is quicker and that, maybe the collisions are a bit different. But the boys are beaten up. We might have to have a look at training this week, have a little rejig at training."

Midfield back Sio Tomkinson took a blow to the knee, while winger Mitchell Scott is struggling with various knocks. The side will simply get the ice packs out and get ready for the final on Friday.

It was a short turnaround for the final, but the team has come a long way since it lost its first two games of the season. At that point, any thoughts of the final were a distant dream.

Herring said Josh Ioane’s winning kick was great and he showed real calmness. He was in no doubt Ioane’s kick would be successful.  Waikato beat Northland 48-26 in the other championship semifinal on Saturday to earn hosting rights.

Auckland beat Wellington 38-17 on Saturday and will host Canterbury in the premiership final next Saturday. 

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