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Southern men stormed to a 5-0 win against Central at the under-21 nationals in North Harbour yesterday.
The convincing win lifted the side to third in the standings.
Striker Dylan Thomas nabbed two goals in the opening quarter, while fellow forward Will Henry also bagged a double. Michael Fu added a fifth, seven minutes from the end.
Northern Harbour (13 points) leads the standings but lost to Canterbury (eight points) in a shootout yesterday.
Capital (eight points) beat Auckland 5-0 in the other match and is in second place.
Southern is also on eight points but can clear out from the logjam with a win against Canterbury today.
There is no final so Harbour is well-placed to push on and capture the title despite its setback.
In the women's tournament, Southern slumped to a 6-0 loss to North Harbour.
Coach Rachael Carson said her side was outplayed but not by as much as the score suggested.
''We could match them. But I think mentally they got a couple of goals up and our girls thought, 'here were go again' and didn't step up,'' Carson said.
''And we allowed them to play their game too much rather than us playing ours. We didn't control the ball in the midfield or around the back enough.''
The home team cracked in two goals in the open quarter. But a better defensive effort enabled Southern to deny Harbour any further scoring before halftime.
''They came off a rest day and were definitely quicker than us and had a bit more in the legs. The speed of the game impacted on us a wee bit.''
Southern did create some opportunities and was still in the game at halftime. But two quick goals in the third period put the match beyond doubt.
Southern is winless after three games and will play Midlands today.
''They haven't been going that well so they are definitely a team we can target and try to get a win off.''
Canterbury tops the standings with four wins from four games.