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Fire back in Otago belly

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Friday, July 15, 2011    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

Otago won 46-29 and set up its victory when it scored three tries to lead 24-0 after the first half hour.

Flanker Joubert was in irresistible form himself, scoring two first half tries, and was at the head of an impressive team effort.

"We just focused on hunger and passion because that is what is going to drive us through the season," Joubert said.

While Otago conceded three tries in the final quarter, its defence until then had been strong and well-organised.

"We worked hard on pushing up and having foot speed," Joubert said. "We missed a few tackles but we made most of them."

Joubert praised the newcomers to the side and also the experienced backs Tony Brown and Ben Atiga.

"With guys like Browny and Ben going the way they are, we can just play off them and it's brilliant. Their hunger and experience is just awesome."

The main concern for Otago for the match will be injuries. Hooker Jason Macdonald left the field after only two minutes with a bad cut around the eye and lock Daniel Ramsay limped off just before halftime with a knee injury.

They will be assessed today but they would appear unlikely starters for the match against Auckland at Eden Park next Wednesday, a ground on which Otago has not won since 1976.

North Harbour, particularly returning three-quarter Rudi Wulf, showed flashes of class but made too many errors.

"Otago played really well," Harbour captain Chris Smylie said. "We kept playing until the end but Otago fed on our mistakes and deserved their win."

The North Harbour scrum was constantly backpedalling and Smylie said that had to be sorted out.

"And we made too many mistakes when we were in the red zone. It's a very quick turnaround for us now. We have to recover quickly (for our game against Tasman at Albany) next Tuesday."

Otago took the maximum five points from the match and Harbour gained one bonus point when Matt Luamanu barged over for its fourth try in the last minute.