Rugby: Otago eye return to top

By Steve Hepburn

Otago captain Glenn Dickson, Jackson Hemopo, Michael Collins and Hugh Blake celebrate their victory over Tasman. Photo / Getty Images
Otago captain Glenn Dickson, Jackson Hemopo, Michael Collins and Hugh Blake celebrate their victory over Tasman. Photo / Getty Images

Otago 41 Tasman 34

The dream continues for Otago. In a pulsating semifinal in the ITM cup championship in Dunedin last night, Otago got home seeing off Tasman in a match which ebbed and flowed.

Otago was under a cloud earlier in the year if they would even have a team in the competition after they flirted with liquidation.

But they managed to survive and are now 80 minutes away from getting into the top level of provincial rugby.

Tasman seemed to have the game won with 20 minutes left, 13 points ahead and having the momentum. But Otago did not give up and climbed their way on the back of a vocal crowd.

They scored some crunch tries through halfback Fumiaki Tanaka and fullback Tony Ensor to crawl back into the lead, then managed to hang on as Tasman lost composure.

The game had plenty of movement and both teams ran themselves into the ground.

Twice Otago pressed on attack but threw poor passes and Tasman's outside backs skipped away to run 80 plus metres to score.

It looked game over for the home side after the second of these runaways tries but Otago did not throw in the towel.

Otago 41 (Jackson Hemopo, Adam Thomson, Fumiaki Tanaka, Tony Ensor tries, Glenn Dickson 3 con, 5 pen)

Tasman 34 (Andrew Goodman, Peter Betham, Albert Nikoro tries, Andrew Goodman 2 con, 3 pen, Albert Nikoro 2 pen). HT: 15-19

- Otago Daily Times

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