Feisty Magpies edge Otago

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Friday, August 24, 2018    Getty Images

The win completes a clean-sweep over Highlanders partners Southland and Otago in consecutive weeks and puts the Magpies at the top of the Championship standings with a maximum 10 points from two games. 


Last week, the Magpies set piece and power upfront was to the fore with four driving maul tries helping them to a bonus-point win over Southland in Invercargill.

It was always going to be a more expansive game against Otago under the roof at Forsyth-Barr Stadium and so it proved as powerful loose forward Siosuia Kaifa barged over in the 13th minute following a fast-paced start to the game.

Otago then rocked the visitors with two tries in the space of three minutes to grab all the momentum. Impressive first five-eighth Josh Ioane and blindside flanker Naulia Dawai came up with the points but outside backs Vilimoni Koroi and Jona Nareki were the architects with a couple of searing breaks.

The pace showed no-signs of letting up and slick passing exhibition from the Magpies put fullback Jamie Jerry Taulagi over to even the ledger.

The game began to settle down late in the half with both packs controlling the ball and a Josh Ioane penalty giving Otago a 17-14 halftime lead.

The Magpies swung onto attack early in the first half and pressured the home-side into giving away a number of penalties before wing Josh Timu was yellow-carded.

The one-man deficit immediately showed as prop Ben May charged over to steal back the lead for the Magpies.

Otago did well to slow down the tempo of the match and prevent any more points from the Magpies while they were a man down. But they were powerless to stop a relentless Magpies surge between the 60th and 65th minute as they crossed for tries to Mason Emerson and Brad Weber to take a stranglehold on the match.

Emerson’s try came following some slick hands down the short side and finished by scorching pace while Weber deceived Otago with a dummy close to the line.

A grandstand finish beckoned when Vilimoni Koroi went over from a Jona Nareki assist but the Magpies wore down the clock expertly in the closing minutes to claim the 25-31 victory.

Loose forward Gareth Evans was immense for Hawke’s Bay both with ball in hand and on defence and deserved to scoop three Duane Monkley Medal points.

Next week, Otago travel north to take on Manawatu in Palmerston North while Hawke’s Bay are at home for the first time this year against win-less Counties Manukau.

Otago 25 (Naulia Dawai, Vilimoni Koroi tries, Josh Ioane try, 2 con, 2 pen) Hawke’s Bay 31 (Siosiua Kaifa, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, Ben May, Mason Emerson, Brad Weber tries, Tiaan Falcon 3 con)
HT: 17-14