Following North Otago’s 16-12 victory over South Canterbury at the Alpine Energy Stadium in Timaru last Saturday to secure a home Lochore Cup final against Wanganui this weekend, North Otago coach Mike Mullins answered Oamaru Mail sports reporter James Ford’s questions.
The conditions didn’t favour either side. What do you think was the difference between the two teams on the day?
The main difference was probably playing at the right end of the field. I thought we should have come away with more points, as we had some good chances from scrums in good field positions in their 22 during the second half. Our defence in the end nullified their three main threats.
Ben Palmer was consistent from the boot throughout. Was his substitution for Stephen Fenemor tactical or had he suffered an injury?
I felt we needed to play more field position and Stephen has been coming on and doing that, hence the tactical change.
Who do you think were the standout performers for North Otago?
A few that stood out were Ekeroma Suileoge with his ball-carrying and defence. In the fowards, Sale Pi’i, Samisoni Tongotongo and Kilioni Taufa all provided us with efforts that kept us in the game. Their ball-carrying always got us over the gain line.
It was a big day for Palenapa Mafi in reaching his 50th appearance for North Otago. What about his game has made him a consistent part of the North Otago squad over the years?
Palenapa has always given 100 per cent every time he has played in a North Otago jersey. His ability to play both sides of the scrum and his ball-playing skills have made him a valued team man since I’ve known and coached him.
Wanganui looked comfortable throughout against King Country in the opposite semi-final. What do you expect from them on Saturday?
Wanganui have had a similar year to us. I will expect them to be confident with their last win over King Country, however, results haven’t been great for them when playing in Oamaru. Finals rugby is different to pool play. Hopefully we can be more accurate against them this Sunday.
PHOTO: MIKE MULLINS