Otago team visit thrills Mil­ton fans

Clutha Leader - - DELTA ROD AND CUSTOM CLUB - STAFF RE­PORTERS

Su­per­value Mil­ton hosted mem­bers of the Otago rugby team on Tues­day, to give fans a chance to be in to win passes to at­tend Satur­day’s Otago ver­sus Southland clash at the Forsyth Barr Sta­dium in Dunedin, which kicks off at 5pm.

De­lighted fans also got au­to­graphs from their favourite play­ers, along with Otago Rugby Foot­ball Union mem­o­ra­bilia. It’s the last reg­u­lar sea­son game of the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup in the ul­ti­mate bat­tle of the south.

Otago lost to Bay of Plenty last Satur­day at Dunedin, with the vis­i­tors win­ning by a bonus-point win, to also chase down one of the semi spots.

The Steam­ers surged home in the fi­nal 20 min­utes to win 36-28 and jump into the top four on 23 points, with one match re­main­ing against Waikato this week­end.

As a re­sult, Otago, which went into the match in third place, now faces a must-win game against last-placed Southland at home.

In last week’s match, the home team started and fin­ished the half strongly, with full­back Fletcher Smith cross­ing from close range to open the scor­ing cour­tesy of a su­perb inside ball from Jono Ruru.

First-five Josh Ioane also pro­duced an equally im­pres­sive cut-out pass to set up winger Jona Nareki in the cor­ner after he was de­nied min­utes ear­lier by the TMO.

But sand­wiched be­tween those two tries were plenty of scrappy mo­ments.

And Chase Ti­a­tia made them pay through two classy pieces of play.

First the Bay of Plenty full­back left his de­fender for dead with some daz­zling foot­work be­fore of­fload­ing to Hugh Blake. After an Otago mis­take from the res­tart, he then caught the defence nap­ping be­hind the ruck for Ter­rence Hepetema to score.

Otago bombed a golden chance to take con­trol when Ruru put Josh Dick­son through a gap, only for the lock’s flick pass to be far too hard for Slade McDowall, who only had to fall over the line.

Bay of Plenty then re­sponded with two tries in five min­utes. Lead­ing by eight, a Matt Fad­des try with six min­utes to go made for a ner­vous fin­ish but re­place­ment half­back Luke Camp­bell sealed the re­sult when he snuck over be­side the posts.

NATHAN LEWIS

Otago rugby fans lin­ing up at Su­per­value Mil­ton on Tues­day.

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