Haugh key as Magpies lose the monkey

The victorious Southern side celebrates after beating Harbour 24-15 to win the Dunedin premier club rugby competition at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Captain Josh Walden holds the championship trophy aloft. Photos: Linda Robertson
The victorious Southern side celebrates after beating Harbour 24-15 to win the Dunedin premier club rugby competition at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Captain Josh Walden holds the championship trophy aloft. Photos: Linda Robertson
Southern replacement prop Mike Mata'afa makes a burst supported by team-mates Andrew Sanders and Axel Hohneck (headband). Harbour players (from left) Patrick Sio (obscured) and Nathan Seiuli attempt the tackle while Tala Fagasoaia ranges up.
Southern replacement prop Mike Mata'afa makes a burst supported by team-mates Andrew Sanders and Axel Hohneck (headband). Harbour players (from left) Patrick Sio (obscured) and Nathan Seiuli attempt the tackle while Tala Fagasoaia ranges up.

Mackenzie Haugh was preparing to watch most of the game from the sidelines.

But shortly after the premier final kicked off, the diminutive Southern winger suddenly found himself in the action.

He came on as an injury replacement for fullback Bryce Hoise and scored with his first touch at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Southern had busted Harbour's midfield defence and Haugh got the ball before just about anyone knew he was on the field.

He dashed about 8m and dived over in the corner. The celebration was exuberant and more was to come. The 70kg utility back got another in the same spot about 10 minutes later and a third shortly after the break.

Haugh's three-try haul helped Southern defeat Harbour 24-15 and claim its first title in 10 years.

''I'm pretty rapt, eh,'' the understated Haugh said. ''Just real happy to get the win.''

As for his first touch, well, it took him by surprise as well.

''It was a wee bit fast to even think. I just caught the ball and pinned my ears back and ran as fast as I could to get to the line.''

There was some good work done by Southern's pack to set up the play. Adam Knight took a clean take towards the back of the lineout. Mika Mafi had crashed through the gain line with a typically powerful run.

Tei Walden cut back inside on the dummy run and Paul Tupai flashed through a big gap and fed Haugh.

Harbour responded with a penalty but was soon waiting under the posts again when Haugh crossed for his second.

This time Southern had muscled the ball up field. Josh Ioane made a wonderful pass out of the back of his hand earlier in the move and Mafi bashed the ball up a few times.

Knight made the last pass, skipping it out to Haugh.

But Harbour kept in touch through the boot of Logan Allen. The Hawks were struggling in the set pieces but remained dangerous from broken play.

Sio Tomkinson busted three tackles on a 30m run. Chucky Koroi tossed aside several tacklers in another promising counterattack.

Charles Elton and Jerome Harimate broke the line as well but Southern kept scrambling.

When Mafi was sent to the bin for a professional foul, the Magpies found themselves under further pressure.

Their defence was stretched thin and they gave up a few penalties to keep their line intact.

The Hawks went into the break ahead 12-10 and had all the momentum.

But it was that man Haugh who scored again. Southern captain and halfback Josh Walden scooped the ball up and darted down the blindside. He chipped ahead and of course the ball bounced perfectly for Haugh.

''It was crucial for us to come out after the half and put points on Harbour because had they scored, it would have been a different story,'' Josh Walden said.

Prop Mike Mata'afa, who made a big impact when he came on as a replacement, dived over from the base of a ruck midway through the second half to clinch the win.

''We've been called the bridesmaid's team and it is nice to get the monkey off the back,'' Walden said. ''It has been 10 long years for the Southern Rugby Club and I couldn't be prouder.''

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