Otago fall short in extra-time epic

Otago fullback Michael Collins had a barnstorming first-half, crossing the line twice. Photo:...
Otago fullback Michael Collins had a barnstorming first-half, crossing the line twice. Photo: Getty Images
One hundred minutes of rugby. One hundred minutes of drama.

Shame there had to be a loser and shame it had to be Otago.

Hawke's Bay winger Mason Emerson scored in extra time to help clinch a dramatic 44-39 win in the Mitre 10 Championship semifinal fixture in Napier this evening.

Loose forward Mika Mafi replied for Otago but Josh Ioane pushed the conversion wide and Tiaan Falcon sealed the win with a late penalty.

What a game.

Otago struck first. Fullback Michael Collins ran through a hole from 40m out in the second minute on the match.

There was more joy in the opening 10 minutes for the visitors. Exciting winger Jona Nareki sliced through and loose forward Slade McDowall was on his shoulder to take the pass and crash over.

Hawke's Bay responded in style through centre Neria Fomai. He accelarate passed one tackler and jigged his way around the next on a  40 run to the line.

Hawke's Bay celebrate during their semi-final win over Otago in Napier today. Photo: Getty Images
Hawke's Bay celebrate during their semi-final win over Otago in Napier today. Photo: Getty Images
There was more action with Collins crossing for a second and Hawke's Bay prop Pouri Rakete-Stones barrelling over to cut the margin.

Ioane kicked a penalty before the break to give his side a 24-14 lead.

Hawke's Bay turned with the wind at its back and closed the gap to seven points with a penalty to Falcon.

Otago countered and had a sensational try ruled out when Ioane was deemed to have lost the ball forward in a tackle.

The try came at the other end instead. Folou Fakatava took a quick tap and chipped ahead.

The bounce evaded anyone in blue and gold and pivot Lincoln McClutchie dived on it to score.

Moments later Devan Flanders ran over the top of Nareki to finish off a wonderful team try which put Hawke's Bay in front for the first time.

But Otago responded with a cracker of its own. Collins got a miracle ball out the backdoor and Nareki bumped off a couple and got the offload to centre Aleki Morris-Lome, who had stayed in support and was rewarded with the try.

Ioane's conversion levelled the score again and neither side could break the deadlock in the final 10 minutes of regulation time. 

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