Last gasp penalty gets Steelers home over Otago

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Saturday, October 8, 2016    Getty Images

It was a pivotal game for both teams, with a loss all but ending the Steelers playoff hopes while Otago needed a win to gain some momentum with the playoffs fast approaching.

The home side defended stoutly throughout and took their try scoring opportunities, but in the end it came down to an indiscretion in front of the posts which gave replacement first five-eighth Joe Reynolds the chance to win the game.

Counties Manukau have dominated the recent history between the two sides and showed why with a power packed opening ten minutes that culminated in a try to captain Jimmy Tupou. Otago bounced back from the initial barrage to pour the pressure on Counties upfront and draw the score level 7-7 when prop Craig Millar crashed over from close range.

With replacement halfback Richard Judd causing havoc around the fringes, the Steelers created a number of opportunities to score but just couldn’t finish as the scrambling Otago defence played spoilers.

Despite a large number of handling errors, Counties Manukau took the 10-7 lead into the halftime break through a penalty by Piers Francis. A feature of the first half was a unique lineout from Otago where the backs came into the line out and the forwards stood in the backs.

The Steelers dominated the opening stages of the first half but couldn’t add to the scoreboard as passes were pushed and two handy shots at goal were missed by Francis.

Otago then showed the Steelers how to complete their opportunities by scoring from a five metre lineout as No. 8 Naulia Dawai crashed over from the well-executed set piece move.

Counties Manukau continued to squander try scoring opportunities as James Lentjes showed that effecting turn overs is still possible under the new laws with two great steals to further frustrate the Steelers.

In the end it was Otago’s discipline that let them down as Joe Reynolds landed two penalty shots to propel the Steelers into second place on the Premiership ladder. Despite being consigned to a third straight loss, Otago’s losing bonus point saw them move into top spot on the Championship ladder with one match remaining.

Otago 14 (Naulia Dawai, Craig Millar tries, Scott Eade 2 con) Counties Manukau 16 (Jimmy Tupou try, Piers Francis con, pen, Joe Reynolds 2 pen)
HT: 7-10

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