Rugby: Match a hit-out but that about it

Otago hooker Liam Coltman drives through a Southland tackler with the support of lock Joe Latta...
Otago hooker Liam Coltman drives through a Southland tackler with the support of lock Joe Latta in the ITM Cup pre-season clash at Molyneux Park in Alexandra yesterday. Also in support is prop Aki Seuili (right) and halfback Josh Renton. The Southland...

If Otago was looking for a solid improvement on last week's pre-season game against Tasman, a victory over Southland yesterday may not have been enough.

Despite a 12-8 win, its points came from penalties during a game rife with turnovers and handling errors in cold wind and snow at Molyneux Park.

Coach Tony Brown said playing in such conditions did not help the team prepare for next week's match against North Harbour, but it was good for players to get some game time.

''For us it's good to get some footy [but we] did not get much out of it. Hopefully, the boys got a bit of a hit-out and got through it without too many injuries.

''I just think the conditions did not allow us to play any rugby.''

A crowd of close to 2000 turned out to watch the play in temperatures of about 5degC, with a wind chill near zero.

Otago was dominant in territory and possession during the first half.

First five-eighth Hayden Parker opening the scoring for the side with a penalty kick on six minutes after Southland first five Jamie Verran missed one of his own a minute earlier.

Five minutes later, Southland answered with a penalty to level the scores and it remained that way until the second half.

Although handling errors on both sides resulted in several turnovers, Otago maintained pressure and kept the ball in the Southland half, but could not break the defence.

Otago winger Fa'asiu Fuatai showed inspiration early in the second with a chip and chase down the left wing, but was shut down at the line by Southland defenders.

The score was extended to 6-3 to Otago about eight minutes into the second half, after replacement first five Peter Breen bounced the ball off the left post and through for a penalty kick.

Southland showed more offensive power in the second half, pushing deep into Otago territory on several occasions.

A break by Southland midfielder Willis Halaholo from halfway almost resulted in a try before he was cut down at the 5m mark.

After another penalty and three points to Otago on 57 minutes, Southland fired back with a try in the right corner by Lolo Loco, less than a minute later.

A missed conversion attempt left the score 9-8 to Otago.

Further attacking moves by Southland resulted in two breaks up the centre late in the second half, but they were both shut down by solid Otago tackling.

Another Otago penalty kick from Breen sailed over the crossbar on 78 minutes to take the final score to 12-8 to Otago.

After the game, Brown had praise for captain Charlie O'Connell, congratulating his leadership and efforts during the match.

Two possible injury concerns after the game were Teihorangi Walden, and Hugh Blake, Brown said.

The team would now focus on being as well prepared as possible for its game against North Harbour next week.

Otago plays Harbour at Forsyth Barr Stadium next Saturday in its first ITM Cup match.


Otago v Southland
The scores

Otago                            12

Hayden Parker pen, Peter Breen 3 pen

Southland                       8

Lolo Loco try, Jamie Verran pen

Halftime: 3-3
Crowd: 2000



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