Improved Southland reaches national quarterfinals

Southland delivered an encouraging 2018 national provincial tournament showing which included claiming the prize scalp of Auckland.

Southland has traditionally battled in the shortened format over the years, which had even included missing out on qualification for the nationals.

However, this year, a team stacked with sevens experience was able to be assembled and it resulted in a top eight finish at the nationals in Tauranga at the weekend.

The tournament got off to a concerning start when Southland let in two early tries in the opening pool game against Waikato.

However, once Southland was able to get some possession it started to show its worth in the eventual 27-14 first up loss to Waikato.

Next up was Auckland, a game in which Southland produced arguably its best-ever performance in the sevens arena.

Southland ran out a 26-5 victor over the Auckland team which included 2017 and 2018 Stags squad member Matty Johnson.

Next up was Otago and its was back-to-back wins for Southland.

The 17-7 victory meant the Dan Cavanagh-coached team advanced to yesterday’s quarterfinal against Counties Manukau.Southland showed it could compete with Counties but ultimately the Counties defensive line was ruthless, in particular in the first half.

Southland was able peg it back but still came up short at 19-10. It sent Southland into the plate semifinal against Hawke’s Bay, which Southland lost 19-7.

The Costa brothers Nico, Ignacio, and Rodrigo were key in attack for Southland during the weekend, as was Lewis Ormond.

- Logan Savory

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