Rugby: Otago squeeze past BOP

By Stephen Hepburn

Fumiaki Tanaka of Otago clears the ball during the round one ITM Cup match between Otago and the Bay Of Plenty. Photo / Getty Images.
Fumiaki Tanaka of Otago clears the ball during the round one ITM Cup match between Otago and the Bay Of Plenty. Photo / Getty Images.

Otago finished just ahead of Bay of Plenty in a penalty-ridden ITM Cup game in Dunedin tonight.

The home side won 32-29 after trailing 19-13 at halftime.

Neither team could put the other one away and the loser was slightly unlucky.

Bay of Plenty went out to a 13-point lead in the early minutes and looked the better team for much of the game.

It hit the rucks hard and Otago failed to get much going in the first half.

But Otago hung around like a bad smell and slowly got itself back into the game and took its first lead with less than a quarter of the game to go.

It then remained composed in the dying minutes and grabbed a couple of key turnovers to win the match.A penalty from Hayden Parker with six minutes left won the game for Otago.

It was a typical early season effort - lots of mistakes and plenty of blown opportunities, and both teams will go away with lots of homework to do.

Bay of Plenty dominated the first half and should have been ahead by more than six points.

Big winger Tino Nemani scored its try in the opening half, barging over the line straight from a scrum, with Otago's lack of size exposed in its inside backs.

That was after just seven minutes and it looked like it was going to be a long day at the office for the home team.

Willie Ripia then knocked over four penalties as Bay of Plenty looked faster and stronger than the home team. But it could not put Otago down and out in the opening 40 minutes where there were sloppy periods from both sides.

Otago looked lively in patches but its only try of the first half came courtesy of a chargedown.

Second five-eighth Peter Breen dived on the ball as Ripia had his kick charged while trying to clear from the line.

Best for Bay of Plenty was loose forward Carl Axtens and halfback Samisoni Fisilau while openside flanker Lee Allan had an impressive 50 minutes for Otago and halfback Fumiaki Tanaka cleared the ball well as usual.

Otago 32 (Peter Breen, TJ Ioane tries, Hayden Parker 2 con, 6 pen) Bay of Plenty 29 (Tino Nemani, Joe Royal tries, Willie Ripia 2 con, 5 pen) HT: 13-19.

- Otago Daily Times

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