Stags seeking to break five-year away game hoodoo and make play-offs

Southland saved its playoff prospects with a surprise win against Otago in Invercargill on Friday night.

Now it has to convert that opportunity by following it with a rare win on the road.

The Stags will play Counties Manukau in Pukekohe tomorrow night and will be chasing their first Mitre 10 Cup win away from home in five years.

At stake is potentially a place in the Championship playoffs.

Southland (16 points) will have to sweat on the result between Northland (19 points) and Waikato on Saturday. But with a win against the Steelers it would leapfrog Northland into fourth place.

Stags coach Dale MacLeod has made just one change to the side which upset Otago 32-15.

Outside back Amanaki Nicole returns from injury and will start on the right wing, while Kieran Lee will drop out of the game day squad.

Nicole was sidelined with a chest injury in mid-October and then a calf niggle held up his comeback for another two weeks.

"He is back on deck now, which is good," MacLeod said.

"Before he was injured he was in the starting group and performed very well.

"Just because you get injured doesn’t mean you lose your [starting] spot, so he is going to slot straight back in."

It is pretty close to the strongest line-up MacLeod could have named.

The side has plenty of positives to reflect on this week as well.

"It was pretty special for the group [to beat Otago]. There was a hell of a lot went into getting that performance."

"So we had a light week to start, but the boys are showing real bounce in their step again.

"It will be massive for us to get a fourth win this season. But our focus is winning our first away game in five years.

"It was great to get a win the other day but, if we are real honest, we did not do ourselves justice in our last away game against Manawatu [a 24-12 loss]."

Southland team

To play Counties-Manukau
Rory van Vugt, Amanaki Nicole, Isaac Te Tamaki, Ray Nu’u, Tevita Latu, Scott Eade, 
Logan Crowley, Tony Lamborn (captain), Matthew James, Charles Alaimalo, Mike 
Mckee, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Siate Tokolahi, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Ethan De Groot. 
Reserves: Talemaitoga Tuapati, Joseph Walsh, Chris Apoua, Ray Tatafu, Jacob 
Coghlan, Liam Howley, Greg Dyer, Jaye Thompson.

"And we are in a really good space heading into that game.

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