Rugby: Final say by Hay on Nth Otago's day

North Otago lock Dave Simpson goes on the charge during the Meads Cup final against Wanganui at...
North Otago lock Dave Simpson goes on the charge during the Meads Cup final against Wanganui at Whitestone Contracting Stadium in Oamaru on Saturday. Team-mates in support are Ross Hay (right) and Ben Patston, while Wanganui defenders are Darren Munro (left) and Denning Tyrell. The referee is Shelden Eden-Whaitiri. Photo by Craig Baxter.
If it was the final chapter in the lengthy career of Ross Hay, then it was a memorable way to go out.

The tough North Otago flanker had, as is so often the case, plenty of blood showing from a tough 80 minutes on Saturday.

But it is an act with the boot which may be his last effort for North Otago.

With time all but up and captain Luke Herden having dotted down under the posts from an intercept try, Hay strolled up to kick the conversion.

While it was not the prettiest of kicks, he banged it over for the icing on the cake in North Otago's emphatic 39-18 win.

Hay said afterwards he could not remember the last time he kicked for goal.

"Probably under-5s or something. It wasn't the prettiest of kicks but it went over. That was the main thing," Hay said.

"It was a hard game, though. Wanganui really came out firing but it was always going to be like that. That first 10 minutes they really came at us.

"But we had trust in what we were doing and we just had to get a bit more direct . . . getting some phases going and just move on from there."

Hay said he knew if the side stuck to its game plan then it would be hard to beat.

He said solid work by the tight five allowed the loose forwards and backs plenty of room.

As for coming back next year, Hay (30) said he doubted he would add to his 126 caps.

"I might play club rugby but that will be about it," he said, as he hugged his son Charlie on the sideline after the game.

Hay was part of a dominant North Otago loose forward trio which had the better of the highly rated Wanganui unit.

No 8 Tevita Fifita had a whale of a game and had his side on the front foot. Not far behind was blindside flanker Josh Collier, while lock Dave Simpson was busy throughout.

North Otago was much more aggressive in the ruck area than its opponent and grabbed some key turnovers through better body position. Its lineout also spoiled much of Wanganui's ball.

North Otago made the worst possible start, bumbling the kick-off. Wanganui grabbed the ball and after a dozen phases, nippy fullback Ace Malo found space on the right hand side to dive over.

But all North Otago needed was possession and it finally got the ball and, after some good driving from the forwards, halfback Kilifi Fangupo went over.

It then scored a second try through winger Lemi Masoe after a good bust by Fifita, midway through the first half.

Wanganui was hanging in through the boot of first five-eighth Mark Davis, but North Otago went ahead for good five minutes before halftime when hooker Stu Philpott barged over after a nice lineout move.

The first 10 minutes of the second half was all about the home side and the constant pressure was rewarded with a try to big centre Faaiatu Tuamoheloa, who burrowed over from a ruck near the line.

When Ben Patston kicked a penalty from 55m halfway through the second half, the Meads Cup was headed to Oamaru.

Wanganui tried to attack but it was laid low by a strong defence and its attack lacked penetration.

North Otago winger Greg Zampach scored in the corner with five minutes left on the clock before Herden did his business at the end.

Patston chose his options wisely, while fullback Billy Guyton was lively.

Best for Wanganui was openside flanker Peter Rowe.



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