Otago mow down Tasman in second half

ON A HIGH: Otago lock Rob Verbakel climbs high for a lineout take during their 39-12 victory over Tasman at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
ON A HIGH: Otago lock Rob Verbakel climbs high for a lineout take during their 39-12 victory over Tasman at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Otago backed up Tuesday's romp against North Harbour with another crucial NPC win over Tasman in Dunedin today.

Despite their brief turnaround, Otago continued their recent dominance over Tasman with their 39-13 bonus point victory at Forsyth Barr Stadium. In the six encounters between the two provinces, Tasman have yet to record a win, their best attempt being a 21-all draw in 2008.

But after thumping North Harbour 54-25 five days earlier, Otago finished strongly after a slow start to score five tries to two.

Tasman stunned Otago inside the opening minute with a spectacular 80m try to second five-eighth Andrew Goodman following excellent interplay down the right wing between fullback Tom Marshall and winger Peter Betham.

It sparked an intense 10 minutes of pressure inside Otago's quarter, requiring the home team to scramble desperately on defence. Otago No 10 Hayden Parker and his opposite Hayden Cripps traded penalties before Tasman spread the ball left in the 29th minute, Cripps receiving the inpass from his winger Robbie Malneek to score his team's second try.

Trailing 13-3, Otago got right back into the contest nine minutes before the break when a quick throw in by winger Buxton Popoali'i caught Tasman's defence napping, allowing centre Hayden Spence to canter in at the corner.

Despite dominating both territory and possession, Tasman only took a 13-10 advantage into the halftime break, Otago making the most of their limited first half scoring opportunities.

However, Otago responded superbly after the restart, matching Tasman's opening strike when a tap penalty by halfback Fumiaki Tanaka split Tasman's defence. Fullback Tony Ensor regathered Tanaka's unsecured chip kick to put his winger Marshall Suckling in at the corner inside the opening minute, Suckling scoring again eight minutes later on the opposite side of the field to help give Otago a handy 24-13 lead.

Otago showed a marked improvement in both their second half attitude and defence as Tasman struggled to make any further impact.

Otago fullback Tony Ensor scored a 45m intercept try just five minutes before fulltime as Malneek attempted to run the ball out of his own half, with substitute winger Peter Breen adding a fifth right on fulltime to seal a commanding win.

Otago 39 (Marshall Suckling 2, Hayden Spence, Tony Ensor, Peter Breen tries, Hayden Parker 4 cons, 2 pens) Tasman 13 (Andrew Goodman,Hayden Cripps tries, Cripps pen) HT: 10-13.

The Marlborough Express