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It’s the one that got away from North Otago.

The Old Golds fell 25-17 to Horowhenua-Kapiti in Levin last Saturday, in a game coach Jason Forrest described as “frustrating”.

North Otago should have won, Forrest said.

“On the flip side of that, we were much better than we were the week before,” he said.

“We can’t lack effort from the players, we can’t lack intensity that we asked of them, but we just lacked a little bit of game management in that second half.”

North Otago was down 15-5 heading into halftime, and the coaching group was “pretty confident” coming into the second half.

The visitors fired early and were up 17-5 through tries to Levi Emery and Alipate Tuipultou but failed to shut the game down in the last 20 minutes.

North Otago made lazy turnovers in contact and was forced into a lot of tackles as Horowhenua-Kapiti held on to the ball in a strong wind.

“We defended really well, we did really well and then, when we got the ball, we made silly options. We weren’t direct enough in what we were doing and weren’t playing at the right end of the park.”

North Otago would be up against another big pack in Mid Canterbury tomorrow and Forrest said improved performances from North Otago each week were key.

Mid Canterbury would be “flying” after beating Heartland powerhouse Whanganui 24-17 last week.

The Ashburton-based team won its first two matches, and was full of talent across the park.

Strong winds were predicted in Ashburton this weekend – “as always” – North Otago needed to focus on its own game, tidy up around the contact areas and in the collisions.

“We’re under no expectations with sort of where we’re at in regard to our side, and where they’re at.”

North Otago had good training sessions this week, doing video analysis from last week’s match to target some of the areas letting the team down.

“Video and stats don’t lie. So we showed them some clear pictures and hopefully . . . they can come out the other side better for it.”

The team will be without powerful winger Sione Fa’aoso, his season ending after he broke his jaw during last week’s match. Fa’aoso had surgery in Wellington on Sunday.

Second five-eighth Tainela Samita also hurt his knee and could be sidelined for a couple of weeks.

Loan prop Tristan Fuli has joined the team fulltime for the rest of the season. The prop, who plays for Alhambra-Union in Dunedin’s club competition, was a “good scrummager” and a big part of the team, Forrest said.

North Otago will play Mid Canterbury in Ashburton tomorrow at 2.30pm.