You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
But Stags coach Dave Hewett was claiming some of the honours. His side rallied in the final quarter of the match in front of about 300 spectators.
"I was actually pretty happy," Hewett said.
"No-one likes to lose; however, the request I had of the boys was they needed to take a step up from last week because we were up against better opposition, and I felt we took that step up.
"We’ve got some work-ons, don’t get me wrong. But it was a high level of intensity and a high level of physicality."
Southland beat North Otago 34-5 in Oamaru last week, and opens its National Provincial Championship campaign against Hawke’s Bay in Invercargill on August 19.
Otago coach Ben Herring could not be reached for comment, but he will have been pleased his tenure has started with a win.
South African-born No 8 Dylan Nel impressed in his debut appearance for the team.
Southland responded with an intercept try to winger Jackson Ormond. But just before the first break, Otago loosie Slade McDowall got a nice inside pass to Naulia Dawai, who ran 50m to score.
The game was played over four 20 minute periods. After a second try to Nel and a Mitchell Scott touchdown, Otago took a 26-14 lead into halftime.
The gap ballooned to 38-14 when Otago scored a couple more tries. But Southland rallied with tries to Nico Costa, James Wilson and Isaac Te Tamaki, to set up a tense finish.
Te Tamaki has recently arrived in Invercargill from Waikato, and he gave a good account of himself on the wing. He looked creative and kept the ball alive.
Loose forward Tony Lamborn was industrious and scored a good try, while lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit made some terrific tackles.
He is the brother of Steel netballers Te Paea and Te Huinga Reo, so theirs is a talented family.
Hewett was satisfied with his team’s effort on defence despite Otago crossing for six tries. But there was plenty of room for improvement in other areas.
"The defensive structure is there and now it is just about bringing the attitude to it, which will come in the next couple of weeks.
"But we turned over too much ball at the breakdown because we didn’t clean and carry correctly into the contact.
"The other thing is we have to make sure we do the small things well. What I mean by that is we can’t give away silly penalties.
"We’d do something dumb and give away a penalty and Otago would kick to the corner and go to a set piece."
Dylan Nel 2, Mitchell Scott 2, Naulia Dawai, Finn Strawbridge tries; Strawbridge 4 con
Jackson Ormond, Tony Lamborn, Nico Costa, James Wilson, Isaac Te Tamaki tries; Tayler Adams 3 con, Greg Dyer 2 con