You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
There was enough displayed in Blenheim yesterday to pique the interest of the Southland faithful as the Stags took on provincial powerhouse Tasman.
However, ultimately it was a disastrous 25-minute period when Tasman scored 33 unanswered points which crushed the Stags and ensured Tasman locked in a 45-24 victory.
Led by impressive young hooker Flynn Thomas and openside flanker Phil Halder Southland worked hard in defence and was able to keep Tasman’s attacking class at bay for the majority of the first half.
Seven days after Hawke’s Bay scored four tries against Southland, all via lineout drives, there was a sense of deja vu when Tasman hooker Andrew Makalio opened the scoring through a lineout drive in the eighth minute.However, tries to No8 Tony Lamborn in the 12th minute and Thomas in the 27th minute saw the Stags hit the lead at 12-7.
For 25 minutes, Tasman found its attacking groove and Southland felt the wrath of it.
Wing Solomon Alaimalo scored with 10 minutes to play in the first half to level it at 12-all, before big lock Pari Pari Parkinson crossed to make it 19-12 at halftime.
The halftime break didn’t halt the momentum, as Will Jordan, Ethan Blackadder, and Sione Havili all scored tries to push it out to 40-12 after 65 minutes.
To Southland’s credit, there does look to be some fight in them and through tries to Manaaki Selby-Rickit and Rory van Vugt, the boys in maroon were able to at least bank a bonus point for scoring four tries.
Van Vugt’s try came in his Mitre 10 Cup debut and to add to the moment, his Eastern-Northern Barbarians club mate Brenton Howden, who was also on debut, played a key role in the lead-up to the try.
Tasman did have the final say when classy fullback Jordan provided a special bit of brilliance to score his second try of the day with a minute to play.
He chipped, regathered and outsprinted the Southland defence to score.
As well as Thomas and Halder, lock Selby-Rickit was probably another Southland standout as he provided a threat with ball in hand.
Not surprisingly it was that disappointing start to the second half which co-captain James Wilson was lamenting after the game.
"To be fair I thought we started that first half well. We were a little bit down, but we were in the game.
"It was just disappointing the way we came out; we didn’t really front up, especially in the first 20 minutes [of the second half].
"Proud of the boys that came off the bench, they really showed impact and helped us out," Wilson said.
The Stags now have a short turnaround as they eye a showdown against Wellington in Wellington on Friday night.
In the other Mitre 10 Cup game yesterday, Auckland picked up a 28-12 victory over Northland.
On Saturday, Canterbury toppled Wellington 27-20 and North Harbour pipped Waikato 29-28.
- Logan Savory
Mitre 10 Cup
Will Jordan 2, Andrew Makalio, Solomon Alaimalo, Pari Pari Parkinson, Ethan Blackadder, Sione Havili tries; Tim O’Malley 4 con, Mitch Hunt con
Tony Lamborn, Flynn Thomas, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Rory van Vugt tries; James Wilson 2 con