Canterbury back on track over lively Otago

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Saturday, September 22, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Having been in the game for three-quarters Otago conceded three tries in eight minutes heading into the last quarter that blew the score out and extended Canterbury's run of wins over their southern neighbour to 13.

Otago played some fine running rugby without being able to enjoy reward on the scoreboard while Canterbury demonstrated their ruthlessness in taking advantages of their opportunities, in spite of their lack of possession and position.

But in one instance Otago provided a quality set-piece play that is likely to draw interest from tactical decision-makers further up the rugby scale. It came from a midfield scrum which saw the Otago outside backs clustered with blindside wing Jona Nareki appearing from the middle at speed to thread the defensive needle to open up a chance for fullback Michael Collins to score.

It was an example of the threat Otago could pose but Canterbury, who had been 14-6 ahead when Otago scored, demonstrated quality finishing.

In the first instance it was only two minutes into the game when from a lineout drive close to the Otago line, halfback Mitchell Drummond threw a long pass across his five-eighths to fullback George Bridge running into the line, and a huge hole to score beneath the posts.

Then in the 13th minute, from a lineout turnover, centre Braydon Ennor threw a long pass to Bridge on the sideline. He had wing Josh McKay on the inside and when he was held in the tackle he flicked the ball outside to second five-eighths Phil Burleigh who had doubled around in support to run in for a try in the corner.

Unable to score points, in spite of several promising thrusts Otago were caught offside and Canterbury kicked to the corner, mounted a lineout drive for lock Mitch Dunshea to score after 28 minutes.

But probably the most frustrating of Otago's concessions of ball was a two-man lineout called on their own line. Almost inevitably they lost the throw and lock Luke Romano carried it toward the line and from the ruck Drummond flung the ball wide for Josh McKay to score five minutes from the break.

Otago unleashed another scrum move eight minutes into the second half when from five metres out from Canterbury's line, No.8 Dylan Nel, who had a fine game in the loose department, detached and fed halfback Kurt Hammer on the blindside, but instead of looking out, Hammer found first five-eighths Josh Ioane sprinting through inside and over for a try.

Yet again, Otago pressure was turned back by Canterbury. Having conceded a penalty which allowed Otago to kick to the corner to mount a drive, Romano wormed his way through the maul to get his hands on the ball and halfback Hammer. He tackled him, got over him and the Canterbury forwards came in on the counter ruck with play rolling downfield where in the Otago 22m first five-eighths Brett Cameron kicked across field to wing Caleb Makene who had just enough time to secure the ball to score in the tackle.

Then, a minute later, in the 59th minute, the ball was run back downfield from a failed clearing kick and with Bridge running onto the ball at speed he had Ennor with him, and the centre sold a dummy and ran in for the try that put the result beyond issue.

Five minutes later No.8 Reed Prinsep capped more good work by the pack to extend Otago's pain by being driven over beneath the crossbar to score. There was time for a consolation try to Nareki a few moments from the end.

Duane Monkley Medal Points:

3: Jona Nareki
2: Luke Romano
1: Phil Burleigh

Scorers: Otago 25 (Michael Collins, Josh Ioane, Jona Nareki tries; Sio Tomkinson 2 pen; Ioane 2 con) Canterbury 47 (George Bridge, Phil Burleigh, Mitchell Dunshea, Josh McKay, Caleb Makene, Braydon Ennor, Reed Prinsep tries; Brett Cameron 6 con). HT: 13-26