Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Rugby: Points frenzy as defensive screens slip up

Hayden Parker's outstanding goalkicking helped Otago get home in Dunedin last night. Photo / Getty Images
Hayden Parker's outstanding goalkicking helped Otago get home in Dunedin last night. Photo / Getty Images

Otago 52
Manuwatu 41

Brilliant attack or dud defence. Take your pick. Otago kept their championship semifinal hopes on a simmer winning a free-for-all over Manawatu in Dunedin.

Otago forward TJ Ioane's match-sealing try summed up the night, as he swatted of three half-hearted tackles in the ITM Cup victory.

Tit for tat. Anything you can do I can do better. Could someone please make a decent tackle followed by another one.

That was the general drift right from the opening minutes. Otago flanker Gareth Evans charged through the Manawatu defensive line without a hand being laid on him for the first try. Everyone else took note, and followed suit.

Manawatu levelled a few minutes later and the carnival was on. Even Manawatu replacement Nic Malo got in on the act. He'd only been on the field a few minutes when Jade Te Rure hopped through yet another big hole and Malo finished it off as 63 points were scored in the first half alone.

A hectic cup schedule and tiring players equalled a lack of application on defence in this case. There were some excellent moves, and one of Otago's tries came from a smashing Buxton Popoali'i tackle.

But the first half tipped past the credibility point, and entered a sort of sevens zone.

The best saves of the night came from the video referee Doug Rodgers who rubbed out a try to Manawatu prop Chris Eves on a marginal ruck call, and made another tough call against Otago's Peter Breen. Just about everything else was gift wrapped, especially in the first half.


Otago 52 (Jayden Spence 2, Peter Breen, Gareth Evans, Buxton Popoali'i, TJ Ioane tries; Hayden Parker 5 con, 4 pen)

Manawatu 41 (Callum Gibbins, Papa Wharewera, Nico Malo, Tevita Taufui, Leroy Van Dam tries; Jade Te Rure 5 con, 2 pen). HT: 36-27

- NZ Herald

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