South Otago promoted — just

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
South Otago earned promotion to division 1 of the Southern Schools Rugby Championship on a countback.

They drew 41-41 with Waitaki Boys’ in a thrilling promotion final at Tahuna Park on Saturday.

There is no extra time in schoolboy rugby, so the first tiebreak was the number of tries scored.

But both teams banked six each, which meant they had to go to the second tiebreaker, and that was the first try scored.

South Otago scored that one. Prop Kane Benington crashed over in the second minute of an exciting game.

Waitaki Boys’ recovered from that early setback and scored the next three tries.

But South Otago finished the half strongly and levelled the scores 19-19 by the break.

It was punch and counterpunch throughout the entire second half. But when lock Jack Newport scored for South Otago late in the game, the game looked as if it had been decided.

Kairus Booth, who kicked superbly during the game, missed the conversion from out in front. He hit the post.

Waitaki launched an attack and scored to draw level. But Blake White also missed the conversion and the game was drawn.

South Otago coach Jason Gilder said his side was pumped to play in division 1 but also realistic.

"They are looking forward to it but they know they have to step up. But they are up for the challenge," he said.

Gilder said they would lean on captain and No 8 Regan Macdonald to lead from the front.

He has been in excellent form this season and his combination with hard-working blindside Harry McHaffie has been productive.

Second five Harlin Puna is another no-nonsense player who makes good decisions, tackles hard and rolls up his sleeves.

Southland Boys’ 2nds, Dunstan, Waitaki Boys’, King’s 2nds, St Kevin’s College and Otago Boys’ 2nds will contest the second division, while Māruawai/Menzies, Cromwell, Taieri, Mount Aspiring, Central Southland and John McGlashan 2nds will battled it out in the third division.

Following the second round, the teams will be split into four groups of four for the playoffs. The teams ranked 17 and 18th will play a ranking final.