Bay of Plenty rearguard capers set up win

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Saturday, October 21, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Wings Monty Ioane and Joe Webber, fullback Chase Tiatia and centre Lalakai Foketi were constant menaces with Tiatia especially creating chances with his timely incursions into the backline.

As a result Bay of Plenty will play their first final when meeting Wellington to decide who will be promoted to the Premiership for 2018.

The game ended with a penalty try being awarded to Bay of Plenty for a deliberate knock-on by wing Latu Vaeno, who ended his season in the sin-bin.

Bay of Plenty demonstrated their potency early when Ioane came across from his right wing to position himself on the left of a breakdown. Receiving the ball he beat his marker and then moved left to draw the defence before feeding on to left wing Joe Webber who had little room to move inside the sideline.

However, he showed his elusive skills to get over in the corner where, with the assistance of the TMO, the try was awarded.

Bay of Plenty lost starting halfback Richard Judd with a leg injury at the end of the first quarter but using the wind to effect they kept the pressure on Otago. When fullback Matt Faddes looked to exit the 22m area he lobbed a high pass but it fell into space and home centre Lalakai Foketi was through to secure the ball and claim the try in the 23rd minute.

Penalties conceded in their own quarter by Bay of Plenty proved costly and, in spite of earlier having man-handled in a scrum, Otago opted for a scrum from a penalty and by working the blindside, halfback Jonathan Ruru was short of the line but got the ball back and hooker Sam Anderson-Heather went over in the corner in the 29th minute.

The Bay back three demonstrated their danger emphatically just before half-time. A clearing kick from Otago's 22m fell to Ioane and he gave the ball to fTiatia who, running onto the ball at speed, created the initial impetus before finding Webber, who linked with Foketi. He found flanker Mitch Karpik in support to set up a ruck and replacement halfback Luke Campbell was on hand to pass to Foketi, whose powerful fend drove him back to the right before he straightened to score his second.

Otago's scrum in the 45th minute made the most of the absence of Bay flanker Hugh Blake in the sin-bin to power forward in the Bay of Plenty 22m area. No.8 Sione Teu had the ball under control as the scrum moved forward and when the ball was released halfback Josh Renton fed second five-eighths Tei Walden who set up the ruck where Teu picked up the ball charged over for the try.

But almost immediately Bay of Plenty responded. Otago lost the ball at the restart and Bay used the ball under advantage. Utilising the blindside they had Tiatia fed onto the ball to create a chance for Webber on the outside. Beating Faddes' tackle Webber then took on Renton and got past him to score and with a superb Delany conversion from the sideline, the home team were out to 29-18.

Otago indiscipline, moments after replacement wing Viliami Koroi shredded the home defence, undid all the good work. A late charge allowed Delany to place the ball in the corner and from the lineout replacement forward Henry Stowers charged around the front and over for the try.

Koroi wasn't finished however, and in the 62nd minute he unleashed a brilliant solo run to race 40m to get Otago back to 25-34 down.

However, the stronger finish came from the home team with Tiatia initiating another thrust in the 69th minute as the ball was moved close to the line for a series of pick-and-goes before the ball emerged for second five-eighths Terrence Hepetema to put the issue beyond doubt for the home team.

A late consolation came for Walden but the issue was already beyond doubt and the penalty try confirmed that.

Scorers: Bay of Plenty 48 (Joe Webber 2, Lalakai Foketi 2, Henry Stowers, Terrence Hepetema, Penalty try tries; Mike Delany 4 con, pen) Otago 32 (Sam Anderson-Heather, Sione Teu, Vilimoni Koroi, Tei Walden tries; Josh Ioane 2 pen; Fletcher Smith 3 con). HT: 22-11