Rugby: 'Record had to be broken'

Phil Mooney might still have the Australian accent but he knows all about the significance of an Otago win at Eden Park.

•  Otago triumphs at Eden Park

The Otago co-coach was as happy as anyone inside the visiting dressing room in Auckland last night as he digested the famous 32-25 win.

Otago had not won at Eden Park since 1976 but erased 35 years of painful memories with a cracking performance.

"We obviously knew we hadn't won up here for a very long time," Mooney said.

"But we said to the boys before the game that, you know, we've got players in this team who have won in Pretoria, they've won in Brisbane, they've won in Invercargill.

"So there was really no reason why we should go to Auckland fearing them. At some point, the record had to be broken. Tonight was as good a night as any."

Otago trailed early and kept in the game only through Glenn Dickson's outstanding goal-kicking. But Mooney was never worried.

"We spoke at halftime. Auckland had a lot of possession and scored a couple of tries through missed tackles.

"But when we had the ball, we put them under pressure.

So the message was to make one-on-one tackles, get some ball and be really aggressive."

Mooney said he was delighted for the Colling family, especially Tim Colling, the Otago rugby academy manager.

The win allowed Otago to get its hands on the Lin Colling Memorial Trophy for the first time.

"For me, when I first came over, I knew the Colling name was a famous Otago name. I'm just pumped we get to bring that trophy home."

Old hands like Kees Meeuws, Tony Brown and Tom Donnelly have been key to Otago's resurgence.

Mooney has also been delighted with the progress made by younger players like TJ Ioane and Buxton Popoali'i.

And he singled out Glenn Dickson, a five-eighth covering fullback in Ben Smith's absence, for praise.

"Glenn toiled so hard for us last year. You can see real strides in his game. He scored a great try and kicked the pressure kicks."


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