Otago 16 v 23 Canterbury
The ITM Cup Premiership champions have held off a remarkable effort from Otago to win 23-16 at Forsyth Barr Stadium to maintain their lead in the 2014 competition.
It was a tough result for an Otago team that dominated in the first half, with the hosts holding a 13-10 halftime lead, a score line that was pushed out with Nasi Manu’s try in the 39th minute of the first half.
The blue and golds played pitch perfect tactics in the opening 40 minutes, and the title holders, so impressive so far in the season, were made to look oddly vulnerable.
Canterbury, who faced their toughest challenge with the seven point win, a big difference from some of their romping victories in the first three weeks, were ultimately able to show their championship quality with a revival against a very good home outfit.
Eventually the red and blacks would become the first team in the 2014 ITM Cup season, either in the Premiership and Championship, to come from behind from halftime to win the match.
Otago first five-eighth Hayden Parker would strike over the first points in the 4th minute, and would follow this up ten minutes later to make it 6-0 to the home side.
Jayden Spence would score the first try of the match, a wonderful reward for a muscular start from Otago who were shocking Canterbury with their mixed tactics, running and kicking with equal balance.
The red and blacks did respond, beginning to throw bodies hard at the blue and gold attack, and eventually the champions began to move into Otago’s territory.
However Tony Brown’s side responded in kind, with a defensive intensity that was matching their enterprise on attack.
Richie Mo’unga, who had a poised game at first five for Canterbury, kicked a 46th minute penalty goal that would start the red and black response.
Rob Thompson would cross for what would prove to be the match winning try in the 57th minute, and a conversion and penalty from Mo’unga would extend the lead.
A late Parker penalty would give Otago the losing bonus point, small consolation in the end after they became the first team to make the champions look mortal.
Pens: Parker (3)
Tries: Manu, Thompson
Cons: Mo’unga (2)
Pens: Mo’unga (3)
Otago: 15 Trent Renata, 14 Marshall Suckling, 13 Jayden Spence, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Fa’asiu Fuatai, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Nick Ealey, 8 Charlie O’Connell, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Naulia Dawai, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Hisa Sasagi, 2 Sam Anderson-Heather, 1 Aki Seiuli.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Donald Brighouse, 18 Joe Latta, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Lee Allan, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Peter Breen.
Canterbury: 15 Patrick Osborne, 14 Rob Thompson, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Adam Whitelock, 11 Milford Keresoma, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Willi Heinz (c), 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Joel Everson, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Mitchell Drummond, 21 Luteru Laulala, 22 Nathaniel Apa.
Date: Thursday, September 4
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Referee: Richard Kelly