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Otago had come out of the blocks quickly and scored three tries in the first half to lead 21-3 a minute before halftime in the Mitre 10 Cup match.
But the visitors scored right on the break and then got its head in front when it scored twice inside the 15 minutes into the second half.
But the home team woke up and a try to centre Josh Timu put it back in front and it then scored another two tries to run out a winner.
The side take on Northland also at the stadium on Friday night in its next match.
Otago 40 (Josh Timu 2, Josh Dickson 2, Freedom Vahaakolo, Charles Elton tries; Josh Ioane 5 con)
Counties-Manukau 22 (Alamanda Motuga, Orbyn Leger, Villani Toulami tries; Baden Kerr 2 con, pen) Halftime: 21-8.