Tactics forgotten, N. Otago wakes up too late

Nigel Walsh
Nigel Walsh
West Coast will travel to Ashburton after it defeated North Otago 24-14 to play Mid Canterbury, while Mid Canterbury beat Poverty Bay 56-22 in Ashburton.

West Coast dominated, leading 17-7 at halftime and scoring four tries to two in all, using its big powerful mauling forward pack to form the basis of the tries.

North Otago failed on the paddock to implement the recommended tactics of moving the ball wide, according to coach Nigel Walsh.

''It was a battle up front but it was really disappointing. It took us 70 minutes to realise that we had to move the ball, a tactic we'd talked about right from the start.

''We had to use our backs and our width but we didn't start until the 75th minute and we started finding holes in the defence, but even with a five on two at times we just couldn't execute properly. So we didn't deserve to win.

''And it was more the older players who didn't execute well. They should take a look at themselves.''

West Coast had a powerful forward pack and for the first time this season North Otago could not dominate in the tight. West Coast locks Isei Lewaqai and captain Joshua Manning had the edge in the lineouts and West Coast had a powerful organised maul.

''It was pretty frustrating.We'd talked about the maul but again, we didn't execute as we trained to do. It was pretty frustrating.

''We knew they'd kick for the corner and roll it away from there. We knew how they were going to play.We invited them into the fight but they took up the invitation and the win.''

North Otago took an early lead when prop Petelo Pouhila barged over from a handy position for first five-eighth Dan Lewis to convert. North Otago retained the lead until the end of the first quarter, when Manning was driven over for an unconverted try.

Five minutes later, West Coast took the lead. From a scrum on halfway, big No8 Amenatave Tukana broke on the blindside to send right winger Regan Stanton outpacing the cover defence to score and give the home team a 10-7 lead.

West Coast extended this to a halftime lead when flanker Brad Tauwhare scored for Reekie to convert to make it 17-7 at halftime.

Eight minutes into the second half, West Coast rammed home possession and position and Lewaqai drove over for Reekie's conversion, taking the side out to a 24-7 lead.

North Otago hit back in the 72nd minute when No8 eight Mika Mafi was unstoppable as he crashed across for North Otago's second try, which Lewis converted.

Walsh, however, could see some positives out of the season.

''Just look at the development of tighthead prop Meli Kolinisau. He's had an outstanding year, coming forward in leaps and bounds, and there are other players who are coming back next season and they'll be the core of the group.

''When you look at our record, our highest losing margins were two, three, seven and, today, 10.We always been thereabouts but we just haven't been able to execute and finish it off.''

In the Meads Cup semifinals, Wanganui upset competition leader South Canterbury 29-24 and Horowhenua-Kapiti beat Buller 18-17, so the Meads Cup final will be in Levin, where Horowhenua-Kapiti will host Wanganui.

-By Terry O'Neill

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