Try blitz helps OBHS win Top Four final

Otago Boys’ High School centre Jake Te Hiwi tries to outstep Southland Boys’ High School opposite...
Otago Boys’ High School centre Jake Te Hiwi tries to outstep Southland Boys’ High School opposite number Jordan Smith in the Southern Region Top Four final at Littlebourne in Dunedin on Saturday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Otago Boys’ High School First XV scored three tries in eight minutes to set up a 26-7 win against rival Southland Boys’ in the Southern Region Top Four final at Littlebourne on Saturday.

But while it was  slick work out wide which got the scoreboard moving, it was the defensive effort which laid the ground work for the impressive victory.

The home team rallied in the dying exchanges. Southland Boys’ was  battering away at the line looking for half a gap to slip through.

Otago Boys’ must have made close to 30 tackles in about three minutes as it scrambled to keep its defensive line intact.

Eventually Southland Boys’ cracked. A lineout was overthrown and Otago Boys’ was able to clear and went into the break up 5-0.

For coach Regan Turoa, that was the defining moment in the game.

"The character of a team is often dictated by the defence," he said.

"We knew we would have a good chance if we could stop them scoring."

When the game opened up about 10 minutes into the second half, the Otago Boys’ classy backline pounced.

Impressive second five-eighth Reuben Wairau made a couple of strong carries, the second of which helped clear the way for first five-eighth Tevita Asi to score, although he still had to brush aside a defender.

Moments later Asi was in the action again. This time he provided a lovely chip ahead.

Speedy winger Michael Manson timed his chase perfectly, got a kind bounce and ran in from 20m out.

Southland Boys’ had started to fall off tackles and centre Jake Te Hiwi strolled through a cavernous divide to set up another try for Manson.

Jake’s older brother Isaak drilled the conversion to stretch the lead to 26-0.

Southland Boys’ scored a consolation when first five-eighth Ryan Taylor palmed off a defender late in the game.

Taylor had a useful match but his captain, Sean Withy, was the best forward on display.

When the openside flanker was not tackling, he was hitting the ball up or grabbing lineout takes. It was a quality performance from a player with a very bright future.

Otago Boys’ edge was out wide. Right winger Max Brown, who scored the game’s opening try, and fullback Isaak Te Hiwi were constant threats.

Blindside flanker Joseph Aldrich-Williams made some punishing tackles and lock Levi Turoa was a steady influence on a lineout which did not always function that well. Some of the touch-finders were almost as wonky as the lineout throws but Turoa said that "was an easy fix".

"There are some individual work-ons. That is something I don’t have to tell these boys. They will go and do that."

The win means Otago Boys’ will travel to Christchurch this weekend to play Christchurch Boys’ High School in the South Island Top Four final.

Christchurch Boys’ and Christ’s College drew 18-18 in the Crusaders’ final but Christchurch Boys’ were crowned champions on a count back of tries. In the co-educational Southern Regional Top Four final, Gore High School drilled a late penalty to beat St Kevin’s College 23-20 in Oamaru.

• Otago B beat Otago Country 24-14 at the University of Otago Oval on Saturday. The home team led 24-0 at the break but this visiting side rallied with two second-half tries.

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