North Otago needs to ‘‘bully the bullies’’ this weekend, coach Jason Forrest says.
They managed it in the 2019 Meads Cup final, blowing Whanganui ‘‘off the park’’, so there is no reason they cannot do it again on Sunday. The Old Golds head north this weekend to play the men in blue in the Lochore Cup final for third and fourth place in this abbreviated and Covid-19-delayed season.
Forrest said to ‘‘scrape’’ into the top four was a massive achievement following a tough season, and the group was looking forward to the match.
Whanganui beat North Otago 45-12 two weeks ago in the round-robin and, while the scoreline was not pretty, North Otago still played well.
The Old Golds had 65% possession, came back to be 21-12 down after trailing 21-0 at the half, and made 84 tackles to Whanganui’s 178.
‘‘We had the ball to do it and we just didn’t execute. That’s been a bit of a downfall for us,’’ Forrest said.
‘‘We took a lot of heart out of it, not as much as coaches, but the boys have and that’s the main thing. We know we can beat these guys.’’
At training this week, North Otago changed some of its passing options, looked at things a little differently, and prepared to play patiently to break down a very strong Whanganui defensive unit.
‘‘To be honest, we’re just going to go out there and have some fun — we’re the underdogs, noone’s expecting us to win.
‘‘That’s how we like it and, hopefully, we can go out there and execute what we’ve put out there in front of them as coaches this week.’’
The goal had been to reach the top four this year and, after Covid-19 delays and everything else in between, Forrest said he was proud of the group.
‘‘Full credit to everyone involved — it’s been a big year.
‘‘We’ve had lots of seasonending injuries, so we’ve certainly ticked a big box for ourselves — anything can happen in finals week.’’
The Old Golds are travelling to Whanganui on a chartered flight from Timaru at 1pm tomorrow. There were a few supporters heading up too, but Forrest encouraged everyone else to watch the match live on Sky Sport. He was grateful for the continued support of the North Otago community.
‘‘Get on TV, show your support that way, and hopefully we can get the result everyone’s after.
‘‘Our loyal supporters and sponsors are huge to Heartland rugby and we couldn’t get through without either.’’
North Otago plays Whanganui at 1.05pm on Sunday for the Lochore Cup. Poverty Bay will play Mid Canterbury at2.05pm for the fifth-sixth Osborne Taonga, and South Canterbury and Thames Valley will play at 3.35pm for the Meads Cup.
All finals will be on Sky Sport.