Otago needs to turn chances into points

Otago first five-eighth Josh Ioane looks to move the ball on during  training at Forsyth Barr...
Otago first five-eighth Josh Ioane looks to move the ball on during training at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday. Photo: Gregor Richardson
In some ways, being a professional athlete is a strange occupation.

It is not eight hours a day, five days a week. It is all about building during the week and working on various skills for one big performance.In rugby’s case, it is one 80-minute presentation a week.

That is the sum of all parts. The product of  all that has gone on during the week.

For Otago tonight, its time on the stage needs to be accurate and consistent. It needs to turn chances into points.

Otago coach Ben Herring said  performance was key but winning in the end was what justified everything done during the week.It is not panic stations yet for Otago. The competition is only a week old and, in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship, a side can qualify for the semifinals with just four wins.

But it will be good to get a victory on the table and Herring said the side had bounced back well from the 34-16 loss to Wellington last week.

"We’ve had a good training week and the guys reacted well to what we saw from the Wellington game. The boys are in good spirits and we’re expecting a good kickback this week," Herring said.

"We’ve had a short turnaround this week and we expect to get a good reaction from the guys."

Otago showed signs of some life in the game against Wellington but there were too many errors at the wrong times and an inability to seize chances.

Hawke’s Bay beat Southland 31-10 last Sunday, scoring four rolling-maul tries, so Otago will be more than awake to that tactic.

Herring, though, said the Hawke’s Bay team would not be silly enough to rely on that approach again.It will be a big game tonight for newly-installed Otago No8 Sione Misiloi, who is known more as a lock and blindside flanker. He showed some signs last week when he came on in the second half, showing power and ability to get over the advantage line.

With new boy Dylan Nel out of the match because of a head knock it will be a chance for Misiloi while Naulia Dawai gets his first taste to be back in the blue and gold jersey since he left for Ireland just under two years ago.

Hawke’s Bay has been busy training in Dunedin since last Sunday, and will be motivated for the game after being well beaten by Otago last year.It is a changing of the guard for Hawke’s Bay under new coach Mark Ozich.

Gone are long-standing players such as Richard Buckman, Ihaia West, Chris Eaton and Tony Lamborn.

Much will depend on No8 Gareth Evans and halfback Brad Weber while Highlanders co-captain Ash Dixon will line up as the skipper of the side.

The match will be refereed by Shuhei Kubo, a Japanese official who is taking part in the domestic competition as part of an agreement between the Japan and New Zealand unions.

The game starts at the earlier time of  5.45pm to accommodate two games tonight.

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