Pleasants-Tate showing way for backs

Greg Pleasants-Tate. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Greg Pleasants-Tate. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
"Only just, only just," Southland hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate joked when asked if he had caught his breath following the 70m burst during the loss to Northland on Sunday.

The former Highlanders hooker has been one of the more potent attacking players for the Stags this season.

Forget about the wingers, it is hookers who are the deadly assassins these days — waiting in the boot of a maul ready to flop over the line at the right time.

It might not be quite as easy as that but Pleasants-Tate has dotted down three times during the campaign and showed the backs the way with his burst in Whangarei on the weekend.

His success will be a little bit niggly for the backs. Southland has the worst attack in the competition, netting just 64 points from five games. But its defence has been stout.

The Stags have conceded a tournament-low 65 points — a paltry tally by any count.

But the side’s offence has not ran smoothly. It attacked and attacked but could not find a way past the Northland defence in the last 15 minutes of the game and lost 18-14.

Coach Dale MacLeod lamented it was a game his side should have won "99 times out of a 100".

It was just the small details which let the side down and that has been the focus for the team as it prepares for a crucial match against Taranaki in Invercargill tonight.

Both sides have a record of two wins and three losses. But the Stags have an extra bonus point and are in fourth place.

A loss to Taranaki would put a serious dent in their playoff prospects.

"Our defence is going real well and we are led well by our defensive leaders," Pleasants-Tate said.

"But, on the flipside, our attack has been going well but is just one step away from clicking and finding that last pass and getting over the tryline which is what we need."

Pleasants-Tate was sidelined with a serious neck injury at the end of 2018. But he had surgery and is feeling great.

The 29-year-old moved to Southland with his partner, Kate Murray, who is from the region, to recover and is rebuilding his career.

He has been somewhat of a rugby nomad. Pleasants-Tate was born in Whanganui and went to secondary school in Auckland.

But he made his first-class debut for Bay of Plenty and has also played for North Harbour, Auckland and Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup, while at Super Rugby level he played for the Highlanders in 2016-18 and made one appearance for the Blues in 2015.

He also played for the New Zealand under-20 side in 2011.

Pleasants-Tate does not have a Super rugby contract for next season and is just concentrating on performing well for Southland. He ditched plans to get into the fashion industry and works for a construction firm when not playing rugby.

Mitre 10 Cup

Invercargill, 7.05pm
Southland: Joshua Moorby, Penikolo Latu, Isaac Te Tamaki, Ray Nu’u, Rory van 
Vugt, Scott Eade, Raniera Takarangi, Tony Lamborn, Matthew James, Charles 
Alaimalo, Ray Tatafu, Mike McKee, Siate Tokolahi, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Ethan de 
Reserves: Sebastian Siataga, Joseph Walsh, Chris Apoua, Craig Smith, Glenn 
Preston, Liam Howley, Greg Dyer, Tevita Latu.
Taranaki: Jayson Potroz, Jacob Ratumaitayuki-Kneepkens, Sean Wainui, Daniel 
Waite, Lewis Ormond, Stepehn Perofeta, Warwick Lahmert, Pita Gus Sowakula, 
Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown,  Finlamor Hoeata, Josh Lord, Reuben O’Neill, Ricky 
Riccitelli, Jared Proffit.
Reserves: Bradley Slater, Chris Gawler, Donald Brighouse, 
Kaylum Boshier, Mitchell Crosswell, Lisati Milo-Harris, Codey Rei, Lukas Halls.

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