You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Otago opened the national under-19 tournament with a 29-22 win against Auckland Development in Taupo yesterday.
The sides were locked 19-19 at halftime in the bottom-eight fixture. Coach Seilala Mapusua said his side made a strong start with two early tries. However, Auckland Development was able to get its big ball runners into the game more and put Otago under pressure.
The defence did not always hold up as well as Mapusua would have liked, but a try to loose forward Sam Dickson just before the break helped shift the momentum.
Otago was able to patch up its earlier defensive issues and it scored two more tries to seal the win.
"We were a lot more controlled in the second half and our forward pack really put in a good shift," Mapusua said.
"We were able to get a couple of close-range tries through our forwards, which was really pleasing."
Dickson had an outstanding game at openside, and lock and captain Josh Hill was impressive, as well.
Delaney McKenzie came on early as an injury replacement at second five-eighth and made the most of his opportunities, while the entire front row was also worthy of special mention.Otago’s next assignment is against Counties Manukau on Wednesday.
• Otago B got its season back on track with a dominant 42-12 victory against Canterbury Country in Dunedin on Saturday.
The home team led 21-5 at the break, through tries by both wingers and loose forward Hame Toma.
First five-eighth Finn Strawbridge scored two converted tries early in the second spell to effectively seal the victory.
Otago B’s next match is against Southland B in Invercargill. The game is a curtain-raiser for the Mitre 10 cup match between Otago and Southland on Saturday.