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Southland leaked three tries in the final 14 minutes against Counties to lose its final outing at the national under-19 tournament in Taupo on Saturday.
Southland impressed on the way to a 24-10 lead midway through the second half against Counties.
However, a lengthy injury break to assess a Counties player halted the Southland momentum, and Counties eventually snatched a 29-24 victory.
The last of the Counties tries came with time up on the clock.
The loss meant Southland finished 12th in this year’s Jock Hobbs Memorial Cup competition.
Individually, there were some promising performances from Southland against Counties.
Wing Josh Mason carried the ball strongly, and hooker Jayden Henderson showed some nice skills in among the tough work up front.
Ben Paulin was good at lineout time and also worked hard around the field.Second five-eighth Devon McLeod did a good job with the boot as a fill-in for Ben Pope, who had a nasty ankle injury inflicted in the side’s 59-0 loss to Waikato on Wednesday.
• Southland B, which included a host of fringe Stags players, suffered a 28-24 loss to Otago B on Saturday.Southland trailed 21-7 after 33 minutes, but worked hard throughout to remain in touch.
The Southland B game was one of two curtain-raiser fixtures at Rugby Park on Saturday. Otago beat Southland 39-20 in the under-18 girls clash.
- Logan Savory