Southland's high hopes dashed

Southland lock Mike McKee bursts away with the ball during his side's Mitre 10 Cup game at Rugby...
Southland lock Mike McKee bursts away with the ball during his side's Mitre 10 Cup game at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Saturday. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The sun did come up in Southland yesterday, but there was still a fog of disappointment hanging over the province's rugby team.

At halftime, Southland was in the penthouse against Manawatu in its match at Invercargill on Saturday. By fulltime it was back in the outhouse, as it surrendered a 26-7 halftime lead to go down 31-26 and continue its long losing streak.

It was tough for a side which played so well in the first half to fail to stop a Manawatu team, riding on the back of All Black midfielder Ngani Laumape, from taking the win.

Southland coach Dave Hewett admitted there was a lot of disappointment in the sheds after the game.

"We wished we could have finished the game at halftime and not fulltime," he said.

"We said all the right things at halftime for the boys and what needed to be done. There was an element there of having the lead and protecting the lead rather than going out and keep attacking. Doing that is a dangerous thing.

"They were always going to come out a bit more fired up and use the ball more. Then Laumape showed why he is playing at the highest level.

"But it was very, very frustrating. Really happy with the first half ... we were playing good, attacking rugby and in those situations then things do go your way."

The plan for Southland was to play territory in the second half.

Hewett said one of the issues for Southland was the period straight after halftime, when the side had faltered.

"We have done lots of different things, different times going back on the field, doing a small rugby drill on the field just before we start again. But something is not clicking."

Southland scored some great tries in the first half - one a clever move off the back of the lineout which resulted in a try under the bar by Ray Nu'u.

"We played some really good stuff in that first half. Some of the best rugby played by Southland in some years."

Manawatu was passive in the first half but came out firing in the second, when Laumape scored a couple of tries and a cross-kick from Otere Black landed in the arms of replacement loose forward Rhys Pedersen to tie the scores up. The conversion from Black from wide out put Manawatu ahead and that was further extended when he banged over a penalty near the end.

Southland lost winger Lausii Taliauli to a shoulder injury and he will miss a few weeks.

Mike McKee had a strong game in the forwards for Southland, as did tighthead prop Morgan Mitchell while Nu'u and halfback Logan Crowley did all they could to produce a Southland victory.

Although Southland lost, it managed two bonus points - its first points of this season.

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter