Narrow losses for Otago teams

Otago Boys' High School first XV coach, Ryan Martin.
Otago Boys' High School first XV coach, Ryan Martin.
It can be a cruel game — just ask the two Otago teams which contested the two Highlanders finals on Saturday.

Otago Boys’ High School lost in the last play of its  game, conceding a penalty goal to Southland Boys’ High School to go down 29-27 in Invercargill.

Then in Gore, Dunstan High School drew 17-17 with St Peter’s College in the co-ed final but did not qualify for the next stage thanks to a strange rule dreamt up by an administrator in some office.

With the score all locked up in Gore at the end of the game, no extra time was played.

Instead the win goes  to the  side that had scored the most tries in the game but both teams had scored three tries each.

So the winner was then decided on which  team scored the first try, which was St Peter’s College, which  now goes on to play St Andrew’s College, of Christchurch, in the South Island final next week.

Dunstan High School coach Garry Marsh said the decision was hard to take but he was aware of the rule before the game started.

New Zealand Rugby rules limit the amount of playing minutes for younger players.

Dunstan was ahead 7-5 at the break and had chances at the end, spending the last 10 minutes of the game on attack.

Halfback Brayden Laing had a top game for Dunstan High, which put together a solid team effort.

Further south, Otago Boys’ could not quite put away Southland Boys’ and it came back to haunt it.

Leading 27-12 well into the second half, Otago Boys’ was hot on attack but failed to turn that advantage into points, and eventually lost out.

Coach Ryan Martin said his side played well and had the better of the second half after it was 12-12 at the break.

It was well in control of the game but lost its skipper Midge van Boxel to injury in the second half and then got on the wrong end of some penalties.

The home team came back into the game and scored a couple of tries but Otago Boys’ was ahead with time nearly up.

The team then conceded three penalties, one a marginal call on a tackle, and Southland Boys’ finished the game by kicking the winning penalty from straight out in front.

Midfield back Burns Mills, who has signed with Canterbury and flanker Taine Te Whata, who has linked with Southland, played well for Otago Boys’.

Martin said overall the season had been a success, finishing fifth in the premier colts grade and also winning all but one of its main interschool games.

It lost to Southland Boys’ 13-12 earlier in the season.

Martin was looking forward to next year where he would have more than a dozen players back from this season.

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