Spartans get one over Otago

Southland Spartans fullback Lisala Halaleva on his way to score in the Spartans’ 44-38 victory...
Southland Spartans fullback Lisala Halaleva on his way to score in the Spartans’ 44-38 victory over the Otago Sassenachs at Rugby Park in Invercargill yesterday. Photo: Logan Savory
Southland's fringe Stags players got  a confidence boost yesterday with the Spartans’ 44-38 victory over the Otago Sassenachs at Rugby Park in Invercargill.

The Spartans-Sassenachs fixture is traditionally used as pre-season Southland-Otago showdown in the lead-up to the Mitre 10 Cup season.

However, yesterday’s game was effectively Southland B v Otago B and  the Southland Spartans  banked the victory in an entertaining contest featuring 12 tries.  Big Spartans No 8 Lio Tosi opened the scoring after just two minutes before the two teams traded shots in terms of tries.

Tosi, Jordie Bungard, Lisala Halaleva, and Alatini Vaihu all scored first-half tries for the Spartans, while Christian Lio Willie, Tom Yarrell, and Legin Felix Hotham crossed for the Sassenachs.

The Spartans held a 24-19 halftime lead and pushed it out to 31-19 when centre Caleb Young latched on to an intercept inside the first minute of the second half and  scored.

Again, the Sassenachs remained in touch through a Conor McLeod try before the Spartans poached another intercept try, this time through wing Bryce Morgan.

Ricky Jackson and Jack McHugh scored to reduce it to 41-38 with 10 minutes to play.

A Toka Sopoaga penalty extended Southland’s lead to 44-38 with a minute to play and then the Sassenachs mounted  one final  attack  to try snatch victory

but came up short.The victory positions the Ben McHugh and Mal Dermody-coached Southland B team well as they set their sights on a big campaign. It will include games against Otago Country, Canterbury B, Tasman B and Otago B.

In the curtain-raiser, Southland Country beat Southland under-19 29-7. Southland Country has games coming up against Otago Country and Canterbury Country, while the under-19 team is preparing for the national under-19 tournament.

- Logan Savory

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