Otago send Hoeft off in style
Saturday, September 24, 2005 allblacks.com Photosport
The result lifts Otago to third on the Air New Zealand NPC table, and it was another famous Southern Man who secured the win - Anton Oliver returning to rugby with a spectacular two-try bag.
From the outset both teams showed an unwillingness - or an inability - to find touch, as Taranaki took the early initiative in the 4th minute with a penalty to No 10 Sam Young. But the slender lead was short-lived. On one of their first forays deep into the opposition half, the homeside responded via the reliable boot of Nick Evans.
3-all. And while it stayed that way until Evans landed his second, the low score belied the intensity of the rugby on display.
Young was unlucky not to draw Taranaki level with several long-range attempts, one of them off the right-hand upright, as the visitors increasingly found themselves on the back-foot thanks to the efforts of local loose forward trio Grant Webb, Josh Blackie and captain Craig Newby.
Inevitably, as the first spell drew to a close Evans extended the margin with his third three-pointer.
Halftime score: 9-3 Otago
The Otago No 10 quickly added a fourth, but the try that sank the visitors came in true Southern, fairy-tale style - on for several minutes at the most, replacement Anton Oliver at the head of a driving maul that crashed over in the 49th minute.
Keeping his perfect record intact, Evans added the conversion: 19-3 Otago.
Taranaki had to score next, and thanks to a knock-on from Otago No 12 Seilala Mapusua they did: Taranaki’s Lifeimi Mafi swooping to feed halfback Craig Fevre for a well-taken try.
On the back of a telling burst from hooker Andrew Hore, a second Taranaki onslaught should have ended in more points... only for replacement first-five Todd Feather to drag the resulting penalty attempt left.
With eight minutes remaining, the match was sealed with Oliver’s second try, scored in similar hard-mauling style to his first.
Final score: 26-10 Otago
Otago. Tries: Anton Oliver (2). Conversions: Nick Evans (2). Penalties: Evans (4).
Taranaki. Tries: Craig Fevre. Conversions: Todd Feather. Penalties: Sam Young.
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