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North Otago's Experience Shows As West Coast Wilt In Final

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
North Otago's Experience Shows As West Coast Wilt In Final

Wellington, Oct 31 NZPA - West Coast's hopes of a maiden divisional rugby title were dashed when North Otago beat them 21-13 in the Lochore Cup final in Greymouth today.

Making their first appearance in a final, West Coast were facing a side who had appeared in five previous divisional finals and won every one.

A nervous start in which they let North Otago's forwards dominate saw them play catch-up rugby after they trailed 0-10 at halftime.

North Otago, the 2002 division three champions and 2007 Meads Cup champions, took control as West Coast gave away some early penalties as they were pinned in defence.

After first five-eighth Daniel Waenga slotted a penalty, North Otago stretched their lead further with the first try of the game in the 13th minute after a well-worked effort from a lineout.

Centre Mike Mullins drew the defence to put fullback Peter Breen through to dot down for Waenga to convert.

West Coast had a chance to score a try late in the first half when a Waenga clearance from behind his goalposts was charged down.

West Coast winger Luke Hughes appeared to have got a faint touchdown in the ensuing melee but the television match official (TMO) called a knock-on.

West Coast were a more settled side in the second half, and with their pack showing more urgency, they had North Otago pinned in defence.

They had two good dabs at scoring but centre James Ward was stopped centimetres short and then Hughes thought he had scored in the corner only for the TMO to rule that he had been held up.

West Coast finally broke through in the 56th minute when nippy wing Maleli Tora scored after a brilliant solo effort over 35m. His try was converted by first five-eighth Josh Cornish.

The introduction of Tane Puki paid dividends for North Otago as the slippery centre wreaked havoc on the West Coast defence, his jinking runs helping his side back on the front foot.

North Otago stretched out with another Waenga penalty and a try to lock Aisake Fonua but West Coast stayed in touch with two Cornish penalties.

It was not until halfback Jason Forrest tucked away a penalty 2min from fulltime that North Otago could think of taking the champagne off the ice.


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