North Otago 28
Wairarapa Bush 21
North Otago kept their Meads Cup semifinal hopes alive with a deserved 28-21 win over Wairarapa Bush in their Heartland Championship rugby match at Memorial Park, Masterton, today.
With their forwards supplying a regular supply of quality possession to a backline which looked full of running, North Otago were good value for their 17-8 halftime advantage and they looked home and hosed when they increased their lead to 28-11 going into the last 15 minutes.
To Wairarapa Bush's credit, they lifted their performance several notches in the closing stages and reduced the gap to the point where a converted try could have seen them share the spoils. In the end, however, nobody could deny that the final scoreline fairly reflected the merits of the two teams.
Outstanding for North Otago up front were hard-running No 8 Tony Lamborn, lively flanker Jack Wolfreys, lock Ulisoni Tahitua and prop Ralph Darling while the pick of the backs were halfback Tala Fagasoaia and midfielders Lemi Masoe and Billy Guyton.
Wairarapa Bush struggled to get any continuity into their game because of spilled passes and a habit of turning over ball whenever the goalline beckoned. Their best players were halfback Inia Katia and hooker Jamie Hunt, who both came off the bench in the second half and impressed with their high workrates on attack and defence.
Wairarapa Bush 21 (Nathan Hunt, Jamie Hunt tries; Glen Walters 3 pens, con) North Otago 28 (Chris Talanoa, Rowan McKenzie, Tim O'Malley, Eric Duff tries; Billy Guyton pen, con). HT: 8-17.