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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