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Southland battled its way to another heartbreaking defeat in Invercargill on Saturday.
This time, it was Canterbury grabbing a 19-16 win in extra time.
Last month, it was Otago squeaking to victory.
The protagonists have changed week by week during the last few years but the plot is a re-run.
Valiant but vanquished. It must get tiresome.
Marty Banks could have sealed the win for Southland with a last-minute penalty. But he pushed it wide and the game went to extra time.
Canterbury first five Fergus Burke knocked over a penalty from in front in the 85th minute to clinch it.
Southland had led 10-9 at the break.
Fullback Josh Moorby ran a good line and went in untouched after 15 minutes. The devil was in the detail there — a couple of dummy runners had helped set up the deception.
Burke had nudged over three penalties and his side took the lead when Luke Roman burrowed over midway through the second spell.
The Stags were down a player after prop Chris Apoua got a yellow card when he led with the shoulder off the ball.
Banks drilled a couple of penalties to get Southland back on a level footing with just under 10 minutes remaining.
But there was a late sting waiting for the Stags ... again.
In the other game on Saturday, All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith helped Manawatu to a 31-19 win over Northland in Palmerston North.
He has skipped the All Blacks’ trip to Australia due to family reasons and was instrumental in the win.
Yesterday, Hawkes’s Bay beat Wellington 31-28, and Taranaki walloped Bay of Plenty 55-28.