Witt saves Otago blushes

Date published: October 24 2009

A late penalty to former rugby league superboot Michael Witt handed Otago a 22-19 Air New Zealand Cup win over Counties-Manukau in Dunedin.

Former rugby league star Michael Witt brought Otago and Counties-Manukau's dismal Air New Zealand Cup season to an end, by slotting over a late penalty to hand the hosts a close 22-19 win in Dunedin.

In a disappointing spectacle at Carisbrook, the Steelers led 7-6 at half-time and a draw looked on the cards with just four minutes remaining. That was until a 76th minute penalty from 45m by the former New Zealand Warriors superboot clinched the win.

Counties-Manukau would have notched a third win and avoided the competition wooden spoon if they scored a fourth bonus-point try in the closing stages but they couldn't manage it.

The players' heads dropped at full-time, with the realisation the struggling union will probably be demoted from the 10-team Premier Division proposed from next year. Otago's fifth win of the season means they will finish ninth or tenth.

Otago: 15 Charlie Hore, 14 Karne Hesketh, 13 Brett Mather, 12 Aaron Bancroft,11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Grant Dickson, 9 Sean Romans, 8 Paul Grant, 7 Alando Soakai (c), 6 Eben Joubert, 5 Seko Kalou, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Kees Meeuws, 2 Peter Mirrielees, 1 Ben Nolan.
Replacements: 16 Jason MacDonald, 17 Sam Hibbard, 18 Charlie O'Connell, 19 Steven Setephano, 20 James Kenny, 21 Michael Witt, 22 Andrew Parata

Counties-Manukau: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Siale Piutau, 12 Dean Cummins, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Tasesa Lavea (c), 9 Samisoni Fisilau, 8 Waka Setitaia, 7 DJ Forbes, 6 Fritz Lee, 5 Rees Logan, 4 Alepini Olosoni, 3 Tuaefe Palelei, 2 Ilaisa Maasi, 1 Simon Lemalu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Holloway, 17 Kojak Faioso, 18 Jamie Chipman, 19 Ryota Asano, 20 Notise Tauafao, 21 Josh Hall, 22 David Raikuna.

Referee: Kane McBride