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Bay of Plenty knock Otago back

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Lynn McConnell     07 Oct 2017     Getty Images

Otago, one of the early pace setters in the competition, are down in fourth place and facing some concerns ahead of their final game next week against Southland.
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The visitors were always in the hunt in a competitive game at Forsyth Barr Stadium and the lead changed five times before Bay of Plenty came home strongest in the final quarter.

Otago opened the scoring when fullback Fletcher Smith ran close to the ruck to take an in-pass from halfback Josh Renton close to the line.

If there was a firestarter in the Bay of Plenty attack it was fullback Chase Tiatia and he demonstrated the threat he represented when creating space in the 10th minute for flanker Hugh Blake to be rewarded for his support play with a try. Bay of Plenty first five-eighths and goal-kicker Mike Delany suffered the slight of seeing his conversion attempt charged down by a flying Otago win Jona Nareki.



Just after Delany gave Bay of Plenty the lead with a penalty goal, Otago failed to cover the ball at the restart and flanker Tom Franklin was quickly onto the ball. Delany pushed hard into a tackle and drove ahead. Tiatia took the ruck ball and provided second five-eighths Terrence Hepetama with Bay of Plenty's second try.

Nareki was ruled to have been out in the corner when Otago looked to respond immediately but he got his try in the 25th minute after second five-eighths Tei Walden made a strong run on the right flank for ruck ball to be moved left with first five-eighths Josh Ioane firing a long crossfield pass where Nareki was in the clear. With Smith adding a penalty goal Otago went to the break leading 15-13.

Both sides struggled to claim the ascendancy in the third quarter as penalty goals were exchanged before the impasse was broken after what appeared to be a nothing kick from Delany produced a wicked bounce and the ball fell to wing Joe Webber.

Otago, under pressure on their own line in the 68th minute charged at the ruck and that left space for Tiatia who took the gap left by the defenders and scored the try.

Replacement back Matt Faddes marked his return to the side with a try that kept Otago in the hunt with seven minutes left and one point between the sides.

But it was Bay of Plenty who got on the offensive and into the Otago 22m area. They had several drives getting within millimetres of the line before it was finally replacement halfback Luke Campbell who found a hole to score the deciding try, which also denied the home side a bonus point for finishing within seven points.

Scorers were: Otago 28 (Jona Nareki, Fletcher Smith, Matt Faddes tries; Smith con, pen; Josh Ioane con 2 pen) Bay of Plenty 36 (Hugh Blake, Joe Webber, Terrence Hepetema, Luke Campbell, Chase Tiatia tries; Mike Delany con, 3 pen). HT: 15-13