Otago defence holds Manawatu out

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Friday, October 14, 2016    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Utilising some brutal running from the Manawatu tight forwards and wing Ngani Laumape and centre Jason Emergy, the home team applied the blowtorch to Otago's defence but at the key moments the blue line held to claim a win where Manawatu suffered for their first quarter inaction.

There appeared scant reward for Manawatu's third quarter assault which came to grief in the face of Otago's outstanding defence which not only absorbed the home team's pressure but turned it back allowing replacement first five-eighths Fletcher Smith to land a penalty goal to break the half-time score of 18-7.

It wasn't until the 70th minute that they could finally prise a gap. It came off a short pass from replacement first five-eighths Aaron Cruden who put fullback Curtis Ambrose into space and he raced up to Otago's 22m area and it was another replacement, halfback Jamie Booth who had the speed to get over the goal-line.

Five minutes later more concerted Manawatu pressure created a chance for Laumape to find space. From the tackle, Manawatu skipper and flanker Callum Gibbins surged to the line but the TMO was unable to see the ball grounded over the line.

Otago hit the ground running look to make up for their recent run of losses and it was after first five-eighths Scott Eade missed an easy attempt at penalty goal that Otago scored their first try. As Manawatu tried to clear the ball away from the 22m restart, Otago ran the ball back at them through fullback Michael Collins who threw a lovely backhand pass to flanker James Lentjes whose quick transfer allowed wing Tony Ensor to put his speed to use to score wide out.

Some athletic opportunism by flanker Adam Knight produced a stunning second try. The ball had been kicked across field but looked like going over the dead ball line. However, Knight launched himself after the ball and before hitting the ground he flicked it back into the in-goal area and while No.8 Naulia Dawai couldn't get his hands on the ball, wing Matt Faddes could and after 11 minutes Otago were two tries to the good.

Manawatu upped their effort and got to spend a lengthy period on attack, during which lock Josh Dickson was sent to the sin-bin, and from an Otago mistake Manawatu first five-eighths Otere Black slipped a grubber kick through towards the goal-line and Laumape won the race for the try in the 24th minute.

Then, a Manawatu mistake, a poor pass which couldn't five any one of five players lined up on the blindside was latched onto by Knight who kicked it ahead and then easily won the race to secure the ball for the try.

Scorers: Manawatu 14 (Ngani Laumape, Jamie Booth tries; Otere Black 2 con) Otago 21 (Tony Ensor, Matt Faddes, Adam Knight tries; Scott Eade pen; Fletcher Smith pen). HT: 18-7

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