Canterbury get a fright from Otago

Getty Images

Sunday, August 27, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Otago led 24-20 with 10 minutes to go but the cool heads, and hands, of flanker Matt Todd and first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga, set up the chance for replacement flanker Ged Brown to pick up the ball from the back of a ruck to get the ball over the goal-line for the match-winning try.

Todd had carried the ball forward and Mo'unga's sidestep and rush carried the ball towards the line for Brown's chance.

Mo'unga had a significant effect on the outcome being involved in two earlier tries and landing a long-range penalty goal in the last minute to put the issue beyond doubt.

Otago burst back into the game from 12-20 down by scoring two tries in three minutes to claim a 24-20 lead.

Hooker Sam Anderson-Heather crashed over from a lineout maul to score, an untimely turnover after a pass from Todd to lock Mitchell Dunshea saw Otago move the ball.

Centre Sio Tomkinson slipped a kick through from his 22m area which saw Canterbury fullback Caleb Makene slip over and Otago wing Jona Makere head downfield to elude, just, the Canterbury defence to give his side their four-point lead.

But Canterbury knew what was required and once into the Otago 22m they knew what was required and Brown capped it off with the match-winner.

Neither side gained an ascendancy in the first half. They scored a try apiece but both struggled for fluidity. Some powerful breaks were made for Canterbury by wing Poasa Waqanibau and flanker Tom Sanders, but in each case the impetus was lost largely due to scrambling defence from Otago.

The penalty count did not help Otago, as they conceded 12 with warnings being dished out, but without cause to issue a yellow card.

Otago had their moments on attack and it was from a 14th minute try to talented first five-eighths Josh Ioane, playing his second game for the side, that Otago made the first impact.

Otago won a midfield scrum on the 22m line and halfback Jonathan Ruru ran wide before passing to second five-eighths Teihorangi Walden, who in-passed to Ioane who sped on the angle to score.

But failure to control the restart had immediate consequences for Otago as Canterbury won the right to kick for the corner and from the lineout hooker Ben Funnell went over on the end of the Canterbury maul. However, he was forced to leave the field soon after with a rib injury.

Otago had far less time in the Canterbury 22m but could have benefited from two penalty goal attempts by Ioane, while Mo'unga also missed two for Canterbury.

Looking to make an early impact in the second half, Canterbury built on a break by Mo'unga down the right flank. The ball was moved back to centrefield where No.8 Luke Whitelock drew two defenders before linking with Todd whose backhand pass found Dunshea who scored.

Mo'unga inspired another try in the 50th minute, when stepping between two forwards and then finding Drummond and centre Tim Bateman in support with the latter scoring.

As Canterbury looked to up the ante a pass from Mo'unga was intercepted by Otago wing Mitchell Scott who was not headed on his run to the line to get his side back to 12-20 down.

Not even a frustrating day with their lineout put Otago off opting for a lineout after a penalty kick and it was Anderson-Heather who set up the frenetic last 15 minutes.

Scorers: Canterbury 30 (Ben Funnell, Mitchell Dunshea, Tim Bateman, Ged Brown tries; Richie Mo'unga 2 con, 2 pen) Otago24 (Josh Ioane, Mitchell Scott, Sam Anderson-Heather, Jona Nareki tries; Fletcher Smith 2 con). HT: 8-5

To view all stats for the Mitre10 Cup season click here