Otago dominant in wet

Photosport     14 Aug 2006     Photosport

Otago scored four tries to none and maintained its unbeaten record for the season in a match played in cold, wet and miserable conditions before a crowd of about 1500.

Evans, at first five-eighths, scored one of the tries and kicked seven goals from eight attempts, and now has 46 points from Otago's first three games. Otago has now scored 11 tries for the season and conceded just the one.

It was Northland's third consecutive loss and, while it played with tremendous spirit, it did not often threaten.

Otago has now taken the lead in pool B and it will face the resurgent Waikato in a crucial match at Carisbrook next Saturday.

While Evans was the star of the show, Callum Bruce, Craig Clare and Ben Smith were also impressive in the Otago backline while No.8 Adam Thompson, blindside flanker Alando Soakai and lock Tom Donnelly were prominent in the pack.

Northland provided plenty of endeavour, but limited finesse, but bullocking No.8 Jake Paringatai and halfback David Gibson were both outstanding.

Otago had a setback before the game with star flanker Josh Blackie a late withdrawal.

He was replaced by Tim Boys while centre Neil Brew took over the captaincy.

Rain lashed the ground as the teams ran out but Otago was almost immediately in profit, Evans kicking penalty goals from 44m and 47m to put it ahead 6-0 after four minutes.

Otago missed a golden opportunity after 16 minutes when Evans hoisted a towering punt, wing Solo Korovata misjudged it and left wing Alipate Fatafehi gathered but lost the ball forward over the line in the tackle of fullback Marshall Milroy.

Four minutes later, Brew cut through but was adjudged to have been stopped just short as he was caught in a double tackle.

Otago scored its first try after 22 minutes when, from a drive following a 5m scrum, tight-head prop Chris King crashed over in the corner. Evans converted superbly to give Otago a 13-3 lead.

Evans kicked his third penalty to make it 16-3 but Otago missed another chance when Fatefehi was thrown out in the corner after he had to wait on a floated pass.

Northland made one of its rare excursions into Otago territory four minutes before halftime and Daniel Bowden kicked his second penalty to reduce the deficit to 16-6.

Evans scored Otago's second try just before halftime when fullback Craig Clare sliced through from a lineout win and Bruce off-loaded cleverly to Evans who ran on the angle to the line. He converted his own try to make it 23-6 at halftime.

Otago dominated territory (88 percent) and possession (61 percent) and would have been even further ahead had it not made five handling errors with the slippery ball.

Otago introduced hooker Anton Oliver and tight-head prop Nigel Hall for the second spell while Northland brought on the experienced flanker Justin Collins and midfielder Josh Levi.

Otago struck five minutes into the spell from a Northland mistake. Hayden Taylor's little chip was gathered by Bruce who sent the powerful Brew on a run to the line. Evans converted well to make it 30-6.

The bonus point try was achieved 16 minutes from the end when Evans ran strongly at the line, replacement wing Greg Zampach came in on the burst and raced 30m to the posts. Evans converted to make it 37-6.

Scorers: Otago 37 (Chris King, Nick Evans, Neil Brew, Greg Zampach tries; Evans 4 con, 3 pen) Northland 6 (Daniel Bowden 2 pen). HT: 23-6