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RUGBY

NORTH OTAGO 25
WAIRARAPA BUSH 11

STEVE HEPBURN

Riding on the back of a dominant scrum, North Otago beat Wairarapa-Bush 25-11 in a Heartland Championship match at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday night.

It was a deserved win for North Otago who won the territory and possession battle, scoring three tries to one in the win.

The visiting side, who were impressive in beating Wanganui in the first round last week, led 3-0 early in the first half but paid the price for not being accurate enough with the little possession they had, and ran across field too much.

North Otago side should have won by more points as they created plenty of chances but struggled to find the last pass or dropped the ball when the tryline was open.

Wairarapa-Bush were dominated in the scrums and provided their opponents a ready source of penalties when they buckled.

The North Otago front row of Sam Sturgess, Mike Mata’afa, and Kelepi Funaki were into everything and gained metres whenever they had the ball.

North Otago led 7-6 at the break and North Otago winger Adam Johnson almost scored seven minutes into the second half but spilt the ball with the tryline open.

Five minutes later, second five-eighth Sam Tatupu charged on to the ball and ran over the final defender to score.

Ten minutes later, midfield partner Lemi Masoe scored the third try for North Otago after a nice run from winger Howard Packman.

Reserve back Tim Priest scored a try for Wairarapa-Bush from a chip kick but with 15 minute left, the visitors had left it too late.

There was plenty of endeavour from both sides in the first half – but not much accuracy.

North Otago had most of the ball and although they strung plenty of phases together, they struggled to find line breaks.

Five minutes before halftime, they scored the only try of the first half.

From a five-metre scrum, first five-eighth Mike Williams fed the ball to winger Packman coming into the backline and he ran into the gap, slipped a tackle, and scored.

Apart from the front row, the best for North Otago were halfback Robbie Smith and winger Packman.

Impressive for an out-gunned Bush side were hooker Bruce Kauika-Petersen and loose forward Johan van Vliet.

SCORES

North Otago 25 [Howard Packman, Sam Tatupu, Lemi Mason tries; Robbie Smith 2 con, 2 pen] Wairarapa-Bush 11 [Tim Priest try; Tipene Haira 2 pen]. HT: 7-6.

— ODT