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Counties nab last-minute Otago win

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/10/2016
Joe Reynolds © Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images Joe Reynolds

A last-gasp Joe Reynolds penalty goal has broken the hearts of Otago and given his side a 16-14 provincial championship win.

The Steelers struggled to break down their championship opponents in Dunedin, failing to score a second-half try.

But the last minute Reynolds penalty goal, given against Otago players off their feet at the ruck, gave the side a scarcely-deserved victory.

The win pushes Counties temporarily into second place in the Premiership, while Otago have now lost three matches on the trot after winning their first six.

The Steelers looked to put their foot down early against the Razorbacks, repeatedly breaking the Otago defensive line.

Several opportunities were squandered before blindside Jimmy Tupou profited from a quickly-taken Counties penalty to go in under the posts in the 11th minute.

Otago quickly hit back, crossing six minutes later with a Craig Millar pick-and-go just metres from the line.

A Scott Eade intercept on the line then saved a certain Counties try after winger Sherwin Stowers made good yardage with a line break.

The two sides produced a tight affair in Dunedin, with last-ditch tackles and tough scrummaging aplenty.

A Piers Francis penalty goal edged Counties' noses in front with four minutes left in the half, as the Premiership side went into the break ahead 10-7.

Francis missed another chance for three points early in the second half, and would rue his mistake seven minutes later when Otago No.8 Naulia Dawai went over.

The Razorbacks held onto their four-point lead for a further 10 minutes with some steely defence, before a Steelers penalty goal reduced the gap to one.

Otago dropped a ball over the line to secure a victory with six minutes to spare, before Reynolds notched his winning penalty goal from straight in front.

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