Northland's stronger finish pays off

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Sunday, September 19, 2010    Getty Images

Both teams scored one try and it was Lachie Munro's boot which made the difference in an entertaining game.

It was a game which got away from Otago after it had made the most of the running but it backs failed to make use of a decent share of possession.

David Holwell was the architect for Northland, Aden Dewes had lively game at second five-eighth and the two stars, Rene Ranger and Jared Payne, were influential in the last quarter.

Adam Thomson had a brilliant game before he limped off in the last minute, young first five-eighths Hayden Parker impressed and Ben Smith was full of running while Brad Cameron was outstanding from the blindside flank.

Otago started the match in 13th place with nine points despite having won its last two games. Northland was eighth with 17 points.

Thomson (Otago) and Rhyan Caine (Northland) were both playing their 50th games. It was fine and chilly and Carisbrook was soft but in good order after recent heavy rain.

Northland ran the ball well into the wind and scored the first points after 15 minutes, a penalty by Lachie Munro after Alando Soakai was penalised at a ruck.

The Otago Rugby Union had allowed ground members to bring their cars into Carisbrook and the cacophony of noise from tooting horns had the desired effect when Munro missed a straightforward penalty after 23 minutes.

Otago spent 11 minutes in the Northland 22 in the first half but without profit, Jared Payne making a try-saving tackle on Ben Smith as he lunged for the corner just before the break.

It was a half of missed opportunities for Otago, which had 65 percent territory but could not convert it into points. Its backs ran too laterally and were easily contained by the Northland defence.

The tempo of the game lifted in the second spell, Northland almost scoring at one end after a break by Payne and Otago almost doing the same after Andrew Parata cut through in midfield.

Handling errors were plaguing both sides and Otago was not helped by a malfunctioning lineout, Wyatt McKay having difficulty finding his jumpers.

Hayden Parker replaced Dickson 10 minutes into the spell as Otago tried to spark its backline into life while Chris Small substituted Ryan Shortland, who had been hampered by a knee injury, about the same time.

The Otago backs and forwards combined in a sweeping 70 metre move after 15 minutes and, from the ruck, Parker kicked a simple penalty to level the scores at 3-all.

Otago finally scored the first try of the game 18 minutes into the spell after a strong break by the blindside flanker, Brad Cameron. The ball was quickly recycled, moved blind and lock Hayden Triggs scored in the corner to make it 8-3.

Otago continued to dominate territory but, when Northland made one of its rare excursions into Otago territory, Munro kicked a penalty from 35 metres to reduce the deficit to 8-6 with 11 minutes remaining.

Eight minutes from the end Northland regained the lead at 13-8 after a turnover and strong run by wing Mateo Malupo. The ball was moved quickly to the right through David Holwell, Rene Ranger and Munro and Payne took the in-pass to score. Munro converted expertly.

Scores were:

Otago 8 (Hayden Triggs try; Hayden Parker pen) Northland 13 (Jared Payne try; Lachie Muntro con, 2 pen). HT: 0-3