Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Otago secure championship semi-final

Jayden Spence of Otago attempts to bust the Auckland defence during the round nine ITM Cup match between Otago and Auckland. Photo / Getty Images.
Jayden Spence of Otago attempts to bust the Auckland defence during the round nine ITM Cup match between Otago and Auckland. Photo / Getty Images.

Otago 37
Auckland 33

Put two rugby sides under the roof in Dunedin and an attacking attitude seems obligatory. Let's hope that occurs on Saturday in this season's third transtasman duel.

Otago and Auckland showed the way in their ITM Cup battle yesterday as they warmed towards their semifinal appointments.

Auckland led briefly after a Simon Hickey penalty, managed to draw level soon after halftime but then fell away. They have to blame their in discipline because they scored more tries and claimed bonus points for that ability.

But their lack of attention to detail and the laws of the game allowed sharpshooting five eighths Hayden Parker a stack of kicking chances and he made Auckland suffer.

"We are disappointed, it's the second week in a row we have been out-passioned,'' Auckland captain Hadleigh Parkes said.

"There are plenty of mistakes and penalties coming into our game.''

Parker is a great asset for Otago with his ability to run matches and keep the points ticking over. He showed his temperament and skills early when Otago made a play across field for the five eighths to kick long to the wing where senior lock Tom Donnelly had stayed after the lineout.

Donnelly retrieved the precision kick and with help from Liam Coltman barged across for a smart try. Otago's control gave them a handy lead at the break but when Auckland

levelled inside five minutes, the momentum should have changed. A disciplined side would have turned the screw. They impaled themselves instead.

Otago skipper Paul Grant completed a fine series of raids under several penalty advantages from referee Jonathan White, Parker kicked a sack of penalties and his side had steamed away to a 37-21 lead.

Auckland mounted a late bid but they had conceded far too many points and were only able to pinch a couple of late bonus points.

Otago 37 (Buxton Popoali'i, Tom Donnelly, Paul Grant, tries; Hayden Parker 2 con, 6 pen)

Auckland 33 (George Moala 2, Hadleigh Parkes, Lolani Visinia, tries; Simon Hickey 2 con, 3 pen). HT: 21-18.

- APNZ

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