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Gritty Otago edge Tasman

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/09/2016

A gritty, no-frills second half has secured Otago a 30-27 win over premiership team Tasman in an NPC rugby cross-over match in Dunedin on Saturday.

While the first half showcased a six-try extravaganza, the only scoring in the second spell came from three Otago penalties as they kept Tasman scoreless in hauling back a 21-27 halftime deficit.

Unbeaten in four Championship matches to date, Otago started with a hiss and a roar, running in two quick tries to open out an early 14-0 lead.

Quick hands and speedy work at the breakdown featured in both, skipper Paul Grant diving over for the first and prop Craig Millar adding a second at the 15-minute mark.

The tries came thick and fast after that, Alex Nankivell and David Havili crossing to snare Tasman a 17-14 lead after 26 minutes.

Otago looked in real trouble soon after when halfback Jonathan Ruru was sinbinned for cynical play in holding back Marty Banks as Tasman swarmed on attack.

But the home team managed to maintain pressure, flanker Naulia Dawai crashing over from a rolling maul and Fletcher Smith's conversion giving Otago a narrow lead.

Tasman had the last say, however, skipper Shane Christie crossing two minutes after the siren had sounded to give the visitors a 27-21 lead at halftime.

The second stanza proved scrappier, with Otago's defence scrambling as Tasman dominated possession and territory without adding to their tally.

Two Smith penalties levelled the scores at 27-27 with 15 minutes remaining, a crucial third giving them the decisive three-point lead in the 74th minute.

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