Taranaki stunned by Otago

Date published: August 29 2015

Taranaki were defeated by ITM Cup Championship side Otago on Saturday, meaning they are yet to win in 2015.

Last year's champions finished off second best in horrendous conditions at Yarrow Stadium after a huge fightback from the visitors, but they were helped by a good performance from Beauden Barrett.

The All Blacks star had been released to get more minutes under his belt and he provided a fine assist for Jackson Ormond's opening try.

Cody Rei and Fletcher Smith had traded penalties in the opening ten minutes before Ormond crossed, followed up by his team-mate Iopu Iopu-Aso as Taranaki showed some slick hands in the wet for their second try.

Barrett was on hand again with another assist before half-time, chipping across into acres of space for Rei to add try number three and convert as Taranaki held a seemingly insurmountable half-time lead of 22-6.

The second half though was all Otago, who began their surge by crashing over through a driving maul with replacement Naulia Dawai touching down.

Dawai was at it again less than ten minutes later from another maul on the opposite side, getting his second try as Otago made the most of the conditions.

Taranaki did score a bonus point try through replacement Sean Wainui to ease the pressure, but Otago kept coming.

Replacement prop Aki Seiuli dove low to catch out the home defence for try number three, with Peter Breen's conversion levelling things up at 27-27.

The game was nearly three minutes into overtime when Otago snatched the winner, their forwards driving hard from close range once again at the Taranaki line with another substitute Kaide Whiting proving to be the hero with his try, much to Taranaki coach Colin Cooper's frustration.

"I'm really disappointed, really disappointed," he said.

"I can handle the first two losses but this one should have been secured. It was a poor, poor second half."

The scorers:

For Taranaki:
Tries: Ormond, Iopu-Aso, Rei, Wainui
Cons: Rei 2
Pen: Rei

Yellow Card: Graham

For Otago:

Tries: Dawai 2, Seiuli, Whiting

Cons: Smith 2, Breen 2

Pens: Smith 2

Taranaki: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Cody Rei, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Jackson Ormond, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Iopu Iopu-Aso, 7 Berny Hall, 6 Mitchell Crosswell, 5 Blade Thomson, 4 Mitchell Brown, 3 Ryan Cocker, 2 Sione Lea, 1 Mitchell Graham
Replacements: 16 Caleb Mawson, 17 Reuben O’Neill, 18 Jared Proffit, 19 Riki Hoeata, 20 Toa Halafihi, 21 Kylem O'Donnell, 22 Sean Wainui, 23 Latu Vaeno

Otago: 15 Peter Breen, 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Jayden Spence, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Josh Renton, 8 Charlie O'Connell, 7 Theo Commissaris, 6 Josh Dickson, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Blair Tweed, 3 Hisa Sasagi, 2 Liam Coltman (c), 1 Craig Millar
Replacements: 16 
Sam Anderson-Heather, 17 Donald Brighouse, 18 Aki Seiuli, 19 Mikele Mafi, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 Kaide Whiting, 22 Michael Collins, 23 Tony Ensor

Referee: Jamie Nutbrown