There have been more than 230 games between Otago and Southland over 125 years with plenty of great ones.

Just do not add Invercargill, 2012 to that list.

From when referee Bryce Lawrence blew three penalties inside the opening two minutes this match had "ugly" written all over it.

Otago won 15-10 to mark its first win over Southland in the national provincial competition since 2008.


It led 9-7 at the break and held on with strong defence in a game which will not linger long in the memory.

Both sides made mistakes at vital times and referee Lawrence made sure everyone knew he was very much in charge.

He blew more than 20 penalties during the game, and though they were justified, not many in the 5000 strong crowd would have come along to see the man in the middle.

Southland has lost both of its opening ITM Cup games and Otago has chalked up just the one win so there was plenty of desperation from both teams.

But accuracy was not in the same abundance and the further the match went on the more often the errors occurred.

If the ball was not being dropped, it was being kicked out in goal, or just thrown to a player in a worse position.

It was just that sort of game.

The weather did not help matters, after a balmy day in Invercargill turned to thick drizzle just after kick-off.

Neither side could put together any continuity and it took until the last minute of the first half for home side centre Nathan Hohaia to score what turned out to be the only try of the game.

Hayden Parker had already put over three penalty goals for the Otago side in the first half, and added another 10 minutes into the second period.

Southland had the majority of the ball in the game but Otago defended stoutly without offering much in attack.

The Otago lineout was very poor and Southland lock Josh Bekhuis had a field day in the second half.

Best for the home side was fullback Marty McKenzie, though he missed two handy penalties in the first half which proved costly.

Southland No 8 Scott McKee worked hard in his debut while lock Bekhuis had plenty of fire in his belly.

It was a subdued attacking performance from Otago as it won through its defence. Skipper Paul Grant continued his good form from No 8.

Parker kicked well at times while centre Jayden Spence made ground on the rare occasions when he touched the ball.

Southland had the lion's share of possession and territory in the first half and twice were across the line in the opening 30 minutes but were held up by some desperate Otago defenders.

Otago 15 (Hayden Parker 4 pen, Peter Breen pen)
Southland 10 (Nathan Hohaia try, Marty McKenzie con, pen)
Halftime: 9-7 Otago.