Old Golds set for South Canterbury

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Following North Otago’s week eight victory over East Coast at the Whitestone Contracting Stadium on Saturday, Old Golds coach Mike Mullins answered Oamaru Mail sports reporter James Ford’s questions on the win and this Saturday’s semi-final showdown with South Canterbury.

What are your thoughts on North Otago’s 45-5 win over East Coast at the Whitestone contracting Stadium on Saturday?

It was a good opportunity to play with a lot more freedom, as we needed four tries and a couple of results to go our way for us to progress into the Lochore Cup semis. The score could have been larger, but given the conditions, a few errors were to be expected. Overall, we did what was required, and now have South Canterbury to contend with in Timaru.

With three school boys (SKC’s Matthews Vocea and Soisiua Ngalo and WBHS’s Loni Fisiihoi) involved in Saturday’s match, how do you think they performed?

All three players performed well, with Matthew unlucky to not get a couple more tries. The goal each year is to go out and win the Heartland competition, and at the same time look to develop players. This game was a great opportunity to see if they can make the next step up.

A South Canterbury semi-final will be exciting for the neutral. Do you think the rivalry between the sides adds to the sense of occasion and brings more pressure on the players?

I think there will be more pressure on South Canterbury being at home. They nearly caught us at the death in Dunedin, so a lot will go into what we need to improve on if we want our second win over them this Saturday.

Do you think the 22-19 victory over South Canterbury in week six will breed confidence amongst the North Otago players?

Yes, any win gives you confidence, but come playoffs, anything can happen on the day.

How do you expect South Canterbury to play?

Each week depends on who you have fit to select from your squad. Will wait and see who is playing in what position before trying to work out how they will play. But going off the last game, they will be tough to beat.

King Country narrowly beat Wanganui 30-29 on Saturday and will play again in the other Lochore Cup semi-final this weekend. Of the two, who would you rather face in the final should North Otago progress?

It wouldn’t  matter who we draw, but from a sponsorship view, it would be great to get Wanganui, as this would give us a home ground final in Oamaru, something for our supporters and more exposure for our sponsors and the town.

PHOTO: JAMES FORD – North Otago centre Ekeroma Sauileoge on his way to a try on Saturday with fullback Simeli Koniferedi in support.