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Otago finish strongest in Dunedin try fest

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Friday, September 20, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

It was no place for the faint-hearted or the short of breath as running rugby held sway in the perfect conditions provided at the covered stadium.

Otago fared so well on attack that they had their four-try bonus point after 30 minutes of play. The score was 36-27 at the half-time break.

The pace slackened in the second half, which was not surprising and it took some powerful play from replacement loose forward TJ Ioane to snatch the advantage for the home side.

From the moment Otago flanker Gareth Evans scored after a superb midfield run from 35m out in the second minute it was all on. The pace was unrelenting.

Otago first five-eighths Hayden Parker landed 22 points to reach 102 for the season, the first player to crack the century in the competition.

Otago were three short of matching their highest score against Manawatu of 55 points.

Plenty of competition frustration for both teams was released in the first quarter as both teams entered into a contest to see which side could outdo the other with the audacity of their attack.

Defence may have been at a minimum as 63 points were scored in the first half but there was plenty of attacking intent from both sides. Hooker Liam Coltman, Evans and Paul Grant were prominent in the engine room for Otago, but Manawatu were not to be outdone.

It was the perfect chance for livewire Otago wing Buxton Popoali'i who kept the pressure on the visiting defences throughout but it was centre Jayden Spence who scored two tries in a thrilling performance by the home backs.

Manawatu's big men Chris Eves, Rob Foreman and Ma'afu Fia while Cullum Gibbins contested in the loose to set the tone while halfback Papa Wharewera and first five-eighths Jade Te Rure cut some merry capers themselves to set up try scoring opportunities with some clever sleight of hand.


Manawatu came out firing in the second half and had their own bonus point try two minutes after the break when wing Tevita Taufu'i crossed and they were unlucky not to claim the lead after some outstanding lead-up work by Eves saw him cross, but a breakdown infringement saw the try disallowed,

However, they made up for it moments later when loan player Leroy van Dam was given room on the right flank to stand up the defence with his speed and Te Rure added the conversion to claim the lead.

Two penalty goals to Parker regained the lead, and after Otago were denied a try to Breen by the TMO the resulting five-metre scrum allowed No.8 TJ Ioane to put his strength to use on the blindside and he got through three tacklers to touch down.

Scorers:

Otago 52 (Gareth Evans, Jayden Spence 2, Buxton Popoali'i, Peter Breen, TJ Ioane tries; Hayden Parker 5 con, 4 pen) Manawatu 41 (Cullum Gibbins, Papa Wharewera, Nico Malo, Tevita Taufu'i, Leroy van Dam tries; Jade Te Rure 5 con, 2 pen). HT: 36-27.