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Bay's effort augurs well

If Poverty Bay keep to the standard of play they set on Saturday, they will win plenty of rugby games.

They played with spirit, intensity and enterprise at Rugby Park and led for most of the match against a strong North Otago side, who pipped them at the end, 34-30.

The result was not what Poverty Bay were after but their performance was much better than the previous week’s effort against South Canterbury.

This time, Contract Consultants Poverty Bay were fizzing from the get-go and they showed what is required to mix it with the better sides in the Heartland Championship.

Coach Tom Cairns was pretty happy, overall.

He had cause to be especially proud of the team’s defensive effort at the end of the first half, when their goal-line was under assault.

North Otago had a man in the sin-bin after Poverty Bay were awarded a penalty try but the visitors quickly got into a great position to strike back.

Their scrum had been dominant and they had a series of scrums near the Poverty Bay goal-line but their immense pressure just before the break yielded no points.

“Their scrum was their weapon,” Cairns said.

“We had five minutes on our line.”

North Otago, though, stayed calm in the second half, they profited from the sin-binning of Poverty Bay No.8 Tamanui Hill and scored the match-winning try with four minutes to play.

Poverty Bay got a competition bonus point for the narrow loss.

They are eighth on the points table but have played three of the top four sides in their first three games.

Captain Ken Houkamau said the week’s build-up had been excellent and the improvement in intensity was evident in vast periods of the match.

Losing in the last five minutes was “quite tough”.

Poverty Bay slotted an early penalty goal and then scored the opening try when fullback Andrew Tauatevalu pounced on the loose ball after chasing his own kick.

He converted the try to put Poverty Bay up 10-0 after 10 minutes.

North Otago responded with a try to first five-eighth Michael Williams, converted by halfback Robbie Smith.

An injured Williams would soon leave the field.

With 12 minutes to go in the first half, Poverty Bay right wing Scotty McKinley scored a fabulous try, ducking inside defenders and planting the ball over the line.

North Otago might have scored four minutes later, after left wing Adam Johnson made a break, but they fluffed the final pass. They soon muscled their way to a try by No.8 Charles Elton.

Poverty Bay were up 17-14 when referee Hugh Reed awarded them a penalty try for a deliberate knock-on by North Otago centre Clement Gasca, who also received a yellow card.

Poverty Bay led 24-14 at halftime but had expended a lot of energy in a fast-paced contest.

The teams traded penalty goals early in the second period.

After 13 minutes, Hill was sin-binned for playing the ball when he was off his feet.

Gasca dived over for a try soon afterwards but Poverty Bay were still ahead 27-24 when Hill returned.

A North Otago penalty levelled the scores with 16 minutes to play but Poverty Bay restored their three-point lead with their own penalty goal.

North Otago snatched the lead in the 76th minute through a try by replacement prop Ralph Darling, who has played over 100 games for the union.

North Otago coach Jason Forrest was pleased to leave Gisborne with five competition points, though he was not impressed with how his side fared in the first half.

He said they got behind on the scoreboard because they were playing so badly, but they were also a team who never doubted themselves and he was relieved they got there in the end.

“Poverty Bay seriously brought the heat to us,” Forrest said.

“Physically, they were giving it to us, beating us up in the first half.

“Our boys showed heart in the second half.”

Forrest said he knew that fitness would not be a problem for his side.

North Otago captain Sam Sturgess said Poverty Bay’s expansive game made them dangerous opponents.

He thought Poverty Bay brought more passion than his own team for the first 60 minutes and they contested rucks well.

“Their line speed on defence put us under pressure.”

Cairns said Poverty Bay blindside flanker Quade Tapsell had a busy game, Jacob Leaf made a good fist of playing second-five and Gabe Te Kani did some solid lineout work.

Poverty Bay’s next game is in Masterton against Wairarapa Bush, who are sixth on the points table.

TERRIFIC TRY: Scotty McKinley reaches out to score a try for Poverty Bay against North Otago at Rugby Park on Saturday. North Otago won the match 34-30. Picture by Paul Rickard