North Otago has claimed the Lochore Cup after a dominant 44-22 victory over King Country in Te Kuiti this afternoon.
Not even the presence of Sir Colin Meads could inspire King Country to a win, but the home side didn’t turn up to Rugby Park without spirit. James Hemera played another fine game for King Country, scoring another try, and in the process, continuing to show signs of a promising future in rugby.
Solid Defense Aids North Otago To Victory
But North Otago always looked the better side on the day, and they can thank some staunch defense that kept King Country from being able to claw their way back. The defense was the winning of the game, as well as a stronger forward pack that proved superior at the breakdown.
King Country dropped far too much possession to win what would’ve been their second-straight Lochore Cup trophy in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship.
North Otago’ captain said that he was proud of his side for pulling off something special after a difficult season of ups and downs.
It’s amazing because we’ve been talking about doing something special all season. The boys showed up today and did just that.
North Otago showed all their experience in finals football in this win. As well they should, the men from the deep south have appeared in more playoff rugby than any other union in New Zealand. The visitors weren’t favorites to win either, placing two spots below King Country in the points table heading into the playoffs.
King Country Fall Short In Lochore Cup Final
The loss sees King Country end a season of much talking points.
They challenged Waikato for the Ranfurly Shield in Matamata a few months ago, and despite coming up short that day, played well throughout the Heartland Championship. Five wins, two losses, and two draws saw local fans confident of a repeat title win, but it never looked like it would happen from kickoff in the final.