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Payne delighted to win close one

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Monday, September 20, 2010    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

It was also a rare win for Northland over Otago, its first since 1990 and its first in Dunedin since 1979.

"We knew it would be a battle down here," Payne said. "We hadn't won down here for so long.

"We knew we were in for a dog-fight, we knew we had to front up and I'm proud the boys did."

Payne scored Northland's only try as the Taniwha controlled the last 10 to 15 minutes after being on the back foot for much of the game.

"We haven't shut out one of those close games so far this season so I'm really happy we did so.

"We threw too many poor passes but we like to throw the ball around up north so we thought we'd carry on doing it.

"We realised we needed a bit of field position to make them [Otago] work and I was pleased with the control we showed in the last 10 minutes."

Northland now has 21 points and a place in the top seven but it was more bad news for Otago which languishes 13th with just 10 points.

And there was another potential setback in the last minute when Adam Thomson, its outstanding forward limped off with a leg strain, which will be assessed in the coming days.

The Otago captain, Alando Soakai, could not conceal his disappointment after his players yet again failed to convert field position into tries.

"I actually felt we had the game in the bag," he said. "It was typical Northland. They'll go until the last minute. They've been playing pretty well but I was gutted with the result.

"They played the wide game well and they've got players like Payne and [Rene] Ranger who can make something out of nothing. They're dangerous and, if you give them the chance, they'll take the half gaps."

Northland will continue its campaign against Counties-Manukau in Pukekohe next Sunday while Otago will play Bay of Plenty in Rotorua next Friday.