Rugby: Otago taste success, at last

Glenn Dickson of Otago. Photo / Getty Images
Glenn Dickson of Otago. Photo / Getty Images

There was nothing pretty about it but that didn't matter to hardy rugby fans at Carisbrook today as Otago lodged their first win of the ITM Cup.

Otago prevailed 17-16 over Hawke's Bay, another team who have started the season in dreary fashion, hanging tough in the second half into a strong wind which threatened to carry the visitors to victory.

In a game that struggled for highlights, a strong wind whipping through Carisbrook made running rugby difficult and it appeared an Otago team missing star loose forward Adam Thomson hadn't made the most of it when leading just 10-3 at halftime.

However, a try to veteran prop Kees Meeuws soon after halftime pushed them 14 points clear, a pick-and-go effort reminiscent of his trademark tryscoring ways with the All Blacks last decade.

Otago, whose halftime lead came courtesy of a try to captain Alando Soakai, spent much of the game's remainder on defence.

They conceded two penalty goals but their tryline was crossed just once, when Hawke's Bay hooker Hika Elliot shrugged off a weak tackle from lock Hoani Matenga 18min from time.

The visiting forwards rumbled a maul over the tryline but replays proved inconclusive while first five-eighth Daniel Kirkpatrick missed a kickable penalty in the 68th minute which appeared to suck some fight from Hawke's Bay.

Otago, led superbly by Meeuws and fellow-prop Halana Aulika at both scrum time and around the park, found a second wind and wound down the clock with tight driving play.

They are still rooted to the bottom of the standings, two points behind Manawatu and three behind Hawke's Bay, who appear unlikely to continue their run of semifinal appearances in recent seasons.


- NZ Herald

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