Rugby: Points aplenty as Otago prevails

Otago fullback Peter Breen goes over to score a try.
Otago fullback Peter Breen goes over to score a try.
Otago replacement lock Ezra Taylor shows his anguish as he is tackled by Manawatu's Jared Brock ...
Otago replacement lock Ezra Taylor shows his anguish as he is tackled by Manawatu's Jared Brock (obscured) and Chris Eves during the ITM Cup match at Forsyth Barr Stadium last night. Photos by Peter McIntosh.

Cricket nearly broke out at Forsyth Barr Stadium last night.

Well a cricket score anyway, as Otago beat Manawatu 52-41.

Defence went out the window as both Otago and Manawatu traded blows before a crucial five-pointer from the human wrecking ball himself, TJ Ioane, clinched the match for the home side.

After Otago fullback Peter Breen was ruled to have been held up in goal - which was a tough call - Otago won the 5m scrum and Ioane detached off the back and proceeded to slam through three tackles to score.

With Hayden Parker's conversion, Otago had a 11-point lead with less than 10 minutes left.

The way this game was played no team was ever safe, but the previous 70-odd minutes told on the visiting side which had nothing left in the tank.

Points came from everywhere and all the players on the park ran themselves to a standstill.

In the first half alone, 63 points were scored, including eight tries, as both sides found plenty of holes in the defences.

The second half tightened up a little - not surprising as it had to as the pace of the game took its toll - but it was helter-skelter rugby at its best.

Neither side seemed interested in defence. It was all about attacking and moving the ball around and there were few scrums to get bored with.

The line speed on defence was too slow at times from both sides but that just added to the spectacle.

The Otago backs ran hard and straight and scored some nice tries in the first half.

Hayden Parker sends his backs away well and also linked well with Fumiaki Tanaka, who was busy throughout.

Up front, loose forward Gareth Evans had an outstanding match as the Otago forwards ran themselves into the ground.

Hooker Liam Coltman showed why he is a future All Black and lock Tom Franklin gave it his all.

Experienced lock Tom Donnelly was a late scratching for Otago because of food poisioning but his replacement, Charlie O'Connell, got through plenty of work.

Otago set the tone for the first half, scoring a try after after just 57 seconds.

Coltman burgled the ball in a Manawatu ruck. The ball then came to Evans one out from the ruck and he threw a quick dummy and skipped 30m to score beside the posts. It was a sign of things to come as it rained five-pointers.

The dream start did not last long for Otago as Manawatu surged on to attack and skipper Callum Gibbins went over.

That was followed six minutes later by another Manwatu try when nippy halfback Papa Wharewera found his way over, sneaking round the side of a ruck.

But Otago bounced back quickly. Hugh Blake grabbed a wonky Manawatu lineout and burst through the middle.

The ball went wide and, after another ruck, winger Buxton Popoali'i split the Manwatu defence and handed it on to second five-eighth Jayden Spence who dotted down under the bar.

Popoali'i had a big hand in the next try as he forced his opposite, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, to spill the ball from a kick.

Coltman drove the ball on and it was quickly switched to the left where Manawatu simply ran out of defenders and Breen crossed.

The tries just kept coming and Popoali'i got the next as Otago drove to the line and then went wide.

Manawatu would not go away in a first half in which defence was almost non-existent and scored a soft try through replacement back Nico Malo.

Spence then got his second and, with Jade Te Rure adding a penalty right on the stroke of halftime, everyone decided to have a breather.

Otago v Manawatu
The scores

Otago 52
Jayden Spence 2, Gareth Evans, Buxton Popoali'i, Peter Breen, TJ Ioane tries; Hayden Parker 5 con, 4 pen

Manawatu 41
Callum Gibbins, Papa Wharawera, Nico Malo, Tevita Taufu'i, Leroy Van Dam tries, Jade Te Rure 5 con, 2 pen

Halftime: 36-27
Crowd: 3120

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