Otago through to Championship final

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Otago booked their place in the Mitre 10 Cup Championship final with a hard-fought 27-20 victory over Bay of Plenty at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Table-toppers in the regular season, Otago fell behind to an early penalty on Friday but responded almost immediately through a Thomas Franklin try and remained ahead thereafter.

Naulia Dawai and James Lentjes also crossed for the hosts, with subsequent tries from Bay of Plenty's Lalakai Foketi and Terrence Hepetema proving in vain.

Otago - seeking a first title since 1998 - will now host either Wellington or North Harbour, who meet on Saturday, in the final.

"I think we deserve to have a smile on our face after a tough game," said Otago skipper Paul Grant.

"The crowd helped us home at the end. We had to keep our defence strong as they came at us."