A good start will be central to North Otago coach Jason Forrest’s plans against Mid Canterbury tomorrow.
After conceding two early tries against South Canterbury at Whitestone Contracting Stadium on Saturday, a young North Otago side found itself chasing the game.
South Canterbury beat the Old Golds 24-7, taking home the Hanan Shield, Phil Gard Memorial Trophy, Bill Direen Memorial Trophy and Placemakers Challenge Cup.
North Otago also struggled in the first half of its games against Canterbury and Otago Country – and Forrest knows his side can not afford a sluggish start tomorrow.
“We finished well and stayed in the game[against South Canterbury],” he said.
“At 17-0 at halftime, the boys semi-reacted, but we just have to get ourselves out of being in those situations.”
Mid Canterbury drew 31-all with South Canterbury, so will pose a similar challenge for North Otago.
“We just have to physically front up, and start better,” Forrest said.
“Once we do start, we have to keep our foot on the throat and not let them into the game.”
North Otago would also have to cut out handling errors which stymied its momentum against South Canterbury, he said.
On several occasions, South Canterbury ripped the ball free in the tackle.
“It just showed at this next level, it’s not as easy as everyone thinks,” Forrest said.
“The ball is gold – if you’ve got it, you don’t let it go.
“We are just running to where all their humans are. We just have to get into our heads – run where the humans aren’t.”
North Otago showed plenty of fight to work back into the game and on at least two occasions should have came away with points, but execution errors let the side down. Had it scored on those chances, it could have changed the flow of the game.
North Otago was not far away from a better result, and Forrest expected his side to improve with more time for combinations to gel.
Marcus Balchin, Toni Taufa and Junior Fakatoufifita were the pick of the North Otago players on Saturday.
Tomorrow’s game against Mid Canterbury at Hinds kicks off at 2pm. It is still subject to Alert Level 2 restrictions.
North Otago squad to play Mid Canterbury (provisional):
Kelepi Funaki, Jake Greenslade, Samuela Babiau, Josh Clark, Josh Hayward, Cameron Rowland, Marcus Balchin, Junior Fakatoufifita, Tarn Crow, Jake Matthews, Toni Taufa, Sam Tatupu, Mathew Vocea, Sione Kavatoe, Josh Phipps, Jack Kelly, Robbie Richardson, Epineri Logavatu, Blake Welsh, Antonio Misiloi, Ben Paton, Tyler Burgess.