Brown winds back the clock for Otago

Getty Images

Thursday, July 14, 2011    Getty Images

Brown controlled play beautifully, kicked intelligently, ran hard at the line and dropped a neat goal to mastermind the Otago win.

Captain Eben Joubert had a powerful game from the openside flank and scored two tries, Gareth Evans made a fine debut from No.8 and Otago dominated Harbour at scrum time.

Halfback Sean Romans and lock Tom Donnelly were others to impress in Otago's six tries to four victory.

North Harbour had plenty of possession had struggled to penetrate the Otago defence until some gaps opened up midway through the second spell.

The match began in bitterly cold conditions, 3deg, and Glenn Dickson kicked an easy penalty after two minutes when Brown was late-tackled.

Otago scored the first try after 16 minutes when right wing Joe Hill swooped on a loose pass in the Harbour backline and raced 50 metres to the line. Dickson converted and it was 10-0.

Otago lost hooker Jason Macdonald in the opening minutes with a badly but eye while big No.8 Matt Luamanu almost powered over for Harbour but was penalised for a double movement.

Otago scored its second try after 25 minutes when Daniel Ramsay kicked downfield, Sam Giddens made a half-break and Joubert was on his shoulder to crash over. Dickson converted and it was 17-0.

Three minutes later Joubert was in for his second try after Brown and Ben Atiga ran hard at the line and stretched the Harbour defence. Dickson's conversion made it 24-0.

North Harbour finally got on the board after 35 minutes when, after sustained attack, lock James King stretched out to score a good try.

It had been a good half for Otago but there was a setback just before the break when Ramsay limped of with a knee injury.

Otago had only 37 percent possession but it took its opportunities well and capitalised on 11 turnovers from Harbour.

Ben Botica gave Harbour immediate encouragement in the second spell when he kicked a penalty from 51 metres to reduce the deficit to 24-8.

Otago scored its fourth and bonus point try five minutes into the half when, from a stable scrum, Brown chipped through and Atiga won the race to the loose ball over the line. Dickson's conversion made it 31-8.

That remained the score going into the last quarter as both coaches began to ring the substitutions.

Brown, who had being having a marvelous match, dropped a neat goal from 30 metres 18 minutes from the end to extend the lead to 34-8.

Harbour persisted and scored its second try when fullback Codey Rei spun out of two tackles to score. Botica converted from the sideline and it was 34-15.

Centre Rudi Wulf showed his class a minute later when he broke clear from halfway, beat the tackle and scored a fine individual try. Botica converted and it was game on at 34-22 with 14 minutes left.

But Otago appeared to put the game beyond doubt 10 minutes from the end when the forwards smashed ahead from a set scrum and replacement loosie TJ Ioane crashed over. Dickson's conversion made it 41-22.

Luamanu scored a late try to give Harbour a deserved bonus point but Rob Verbakel scored Otago's sixth on the final hooter.

Scores were:

Otago 46 (Joe Hill, Eben Joubert, Ben Atiga, TJ Ioane, Rob Verbakel tries; Glenn Dickson 5 con, pen; Tony Brown dropped goal) North Harbour 29 (James King, Codey Rei, Rudi Wulf, Mat Luamanu tries; Ben Botica 3 con, pen). HT:24-5