Playoffs now loom

Otago has steamed into the playoffs and it appears it is now or never for the side.

The side grabbed its first win over Canterbury in 15 years last night, and with it they are clear leaders in the championship of the Mitre 10 Cup.

The team has won four games in a row and pushed four points clear of Hawke’s Bay, which plays Bay of Plenty tomorrow.

There are two games left for Otago in the regular season, against Southland in Invercargill next Friday and Tasman at Forsyth Barr Stadium on November 14.

The side is more than 10 points clear of the third-placed team, Northland, and now would want to finish top of the ladder.

Home advantage becomes key in the playoffs, and if Otago can win one of its next two games it should be in the box seat.

Hawke’s Bay plays Wellington next week in Napier and then finishes its regular season in Taranaki.

Otago is one of only two sides in the Championship which has never made it out of the division and played in the Premiership, since the competition went to two divisions in 2011.

One wonders: if it cannot get promoted this season, when can it?

The side is playing well, with some steel up front and experience in the field of props Josh Hohneck and Jamie Mackintosh and lock Josh Dickson continues to make progress.

Backed up by a good group of loose forwards, the side can also get the ball.

Out back it has experience and the X-factor which is needed to win games at this level.

As the business end of the season approaches, this side has probably the best chance of any Otago team in the last 10 seasons to finally get over the hump.

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