North Otago will have to do a few things a lot better if it is to win a rematch with Pirates and reach the Dunedin women’s club rugby final.
A 41-7 loss to Pirates at Weston last Saturday suggests North Otago will be up against it when it heads south to play the same club in a semifinal this weekend.
But the women in gold know they can do better – they were only beaten by Pirates by three points earlier this season.
They struggled with the superior physicality of the Dunedin club last weekend, perhaps no surprise when you consider how many of the squad are still at school or not long out of it.
North Otago players also failed to treasure the ball when they managed to get it, and will have to do a lot better in that regard when the semifinal kicks off at Hancock Park.
“We were all very disappointed that we didn’t play the way we had planned and trained,” North Otago coach Mark Wilson said.
“It makes this week a huge challenge but I am confident we will be ready and up for it.”
Pirates played with the wind at Weston and completely dominated territory in the first half, relying on a powerful scrum and midfield strength to push to a 24-0 lead at the break.
Burly prop Gemma Tuhega barrelled over for a hat trick of tries, and classy centre Kilistina Moata’ane showed why she is among the inaugural list of contracted women’s professional players in New Zealand.
Experienced second five Greer Muir also impressed for Pirates.
North Otago scrapped hard to the finish, led by star player Morgan Henderson and vigorous prop Esitimoa Ngalo, while fullback Cheyenne Cunningham tried her hardest to get things going.