Otago strongest in Dunedin try-fest
September 20, 2013
Otago fly-half Hayden Parker racked up 22 points to take his season tally past the 100 mark
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Otago claimed a 52-41 win over Manawatu in an 11-try contest at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Friday.
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 in attack that they had their four-try bonus point after just 30 minutes of play. The score was 36-27 at the half-time break.
The pace slackened in the second half 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 35meters out in the second minute, it was all on. The pace was unrelenting. Otago first fly-half 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.
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 environment 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 set the tone, while scrum-half Papa Wharewera and fly-half 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 Television Match Official the resulting five-metre scrum allowed No.8 TJ Ioane to put his strength to use on the blindside and he beat three defenders to touch down.
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