Otago held out against rivals Southland by 15-8, racking up their fifth consecutive win in the New Zealand domestic competition.
The visitors were made to work for the victory, especially on defence. After going into the changeroom at halftime with a comfortable 15-3 lead, they failed to score any points in the second half.
It was the men from Otago who opened up the scoring with a Ben Smith try created by flyhalf Callum Bruce. The home team answered right back through No 8 Iona Sipa, who couldn’t quite get the ball over the line but provided the platform for a drop goal by Blair Stewart.
Otago then replied with their second try, this time No 8 Adam Thomson rounding off some good structural play. Evans converted to make it a seven-pointer and knocked over a subsequent penalty before the referee called the end of the first forty.
It proved to be one of those physically intense encounters typical of local derbies, with little expansive play of which to speak. This eventually cost Southland, who dominated both territory and possession but lacked the penetration in the midfield to make it count.
In the final quarter, Southland captain Clarke Dermody managed to run in a try from 35 metres out to give the homeside a well deserved bonus point. Their next few assaults on the Otago line proved fruitless, as they conceded a couple of turnovers that were easily cleared by the visitors.
Otago: Tries: Ben Smith, Adam Thomson; Conversion: Nick Evans; Penalty: Evans
Southland: Try: Clarke Dermody; Drop goal: Blair Stewart