A Very Warm Welcome To Our King Country Friends.
North Otago and King Country will meet for the 13th time in their eighty three years of rugby history when the two unions meet this afternoon at Whitestone stadium. The first encounter between the two sides occurred in 1966 when the North Otago team was on a North Island tour. King Country won 22-6 with halfback Richard Ropata and first five eighth Alistair O’Neill scoring tries. The King Country that year was a strong one winning seven of its eleven matches during the season.
The next encounter between the two sides was in 1974 when King Country won 24-14 with North Otago’s points coming tries from Chris Conlan, both of which were converted by Paddy Whyte.
The two sides did not meet again until 2002 when in the then third division North Otago registered its first win, 27-16, with Watisoni Lotawa scoring two tries and Simon Porter a conversion and five penalties. The North Otago team that day were Luke Herden, Toety Palamo, Lotawa, Mike Mavor, Steve Kotua, Porter, Ryan McCarthy, Regan Laughton, Ray Ofisa, Ross Hay, Regan Gilder, Gary Ford, Hotili Asi, Atalea Katoa and Barry Fox.
This 2002 North Otago side won all eleven of its games thus winning the third division and earning promotion to division two for the next season. The team scored 497 points, conceded 144 and in the eleven matches scored sixty five tries while first five eighth Porter scored 159 points which came from three tries, 39 conversions and 22 penalties.
King Country came south in 2007 and lost 5-52 to North Otago with the home side scoring eight tries as later in the season it beat Wanganui in the Meads Cup final, 25-8. King Country won the 2008 encounter 27-8 . In 2009 North Otago beat King Country, 35-10 in the playoff round. The two sides met in the Lochore Cup final with North Otago taking the honours 31-27.
The two Unions did not meet in 2010 or 2011 but in 2012 a late Chris Talanoa try gave North Otago a 31-30 win in Te Kuiti.
King Country won in 2014, 17-14 and in 2015 in the Lochore Cup final, King Country took the honours47-34. 2016 saw the two sides draw 4-4 in the playoff round and in the final North Otago brought the Lochore Cup home with a 44-22 victory.
By Terry O’Neill.
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