Southern Region champions, West Taieri have claimed the Otago Countrywide Shield with a strong 46-36 win over Alexandra at Molyneux Park.
Alexandra came out of the blocks well and for the opening five minutes of the match, they were in total control. They built phases, made metres, and looked like they were up for the challenge. However, once West Taieri got their hands on the ball they made metres through the middle with apparent ease. The visitors opened the scoring through prop Ethan Hippolite from close range after a mistake at the back gave West Taieri great field position. Wests crossed the line again shortly after through midfielder Will Scorgie who made light work of an overlap on the outside to dot down and extend the score. Alex looked shell-shocked, but finally managed to hold on to possession and build more phases.The halftime score was 32-17 to West Taieri, but the margin could have been a lot wider if Callum Smeaton had his usual deadly accuracy off the tee.
The second half paled in comparison to the first as both sides played with a lot more structure and their defensive responsibilities were not as neglected as perhaps they were at the start. Winger Nathan Cradock who showed his finishing ability to snare his hat-trick and add his side’s sixth try of the match. This was the last scoring play of the match as West Taieri controlled the final stages but could not cross the line. The whistle went, and the Pigs won their first ever Countrywide championship.
This brings to an end the Otago Country club season for 2023. It was fantastic to see a full, uninterrupted season with plenty of fantastic footy on show. Our heads turn to the representative calendar now as the highly anticipated Topp Cup is contested at Country Day next weekend in Alexandra before the Otago Country rep season starts the following week.
West Taieri 46 (Ethan Hippolite x2, Steve Green, Will Scorgie, Ryan Sutherland, Conor Beaton, Isaac Timoko, Conner Jenkins tries; Callum Smeaton 3 con) beat Alexandra 36 (Nathan Cradock x3, Josh Young, Kanon Dick, Michael Murtagh-Loader tries; Tyler Ford 3 con) HT 32-17.