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Preview: Southland v Taranaki

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Friday, August 30, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 53, Southland 20, Taranaki 32

LAST TIME: Southland 18 lost to Taranaki 47, 2012 at Rugby Park Stadium

WALKING WOUNDED: Southland have no injury enforced changes but returning to the team are wing Tim Cornforth and No.8 Elliot Dixon in place of Marty McKenzie and Hale T-Pole. Taranaki have lost second five-eighths Ope Peleseuma after he suffered concussion against Wellington but Berny Hall will be back on the flank of the scrum after recovering from a minor calf injury.

FORM: Neither side has had the best of starts. Southland have lost to Tasman and Northland, two sides it would have targeted for wins. Taranaki have had the harder deal with losses to Wellington and Canterbury. It is desperation time for both of them. Of particular concern to Southland is their inability to score a try in two games. That will not advance any team and shuts them out of the added bonus from scoring four tries in the odd game. Taranaki does look to have greater speed and firepower in their backline and they will be looking to expose Southland in that regard. However, Southland are not without hope, especially with the attacking skill available through fullback Robbie Robinson. The mid-field pairing of Cardiff Vaega and Bryan Milne look likely but have not been seeing enough quality ball. Traditionally both sides are well equipped in the forwards and that appears the case again.

WE THINK: As a Premiership side Taranaki are in desperate need of a win if they are to alleviate concerns of prospective relegation. That is the more powerful requirement and while winning away from home can be an issue they showed last year that Invercargill holds no special threats for them by running up 47 points. Southland need to get their act together and a win over a top-flight side would be a help but it is difficult to see them turning things around sufficiently to claim a win. Taranaki by 10.

Teams:

Southland: 1.Jamie Mackintosh, 2.David Hall, 3.Nicolas Barrett, 4.Josh Bekhuis, 5.Michael Fatialofa, 6.John Hardie, 7.Tim Boys, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Tayler Adams, 10.Scott Eade, 11.Tim Cornforth, 12.Cardiff Vaega, 13.Bryan Milne, 14.Gareth Williams-Spiers, 15.Robbie Robinson.

Replacements: 16.Talemaitoga Tuapati, 17.Tukiterangi Raimona, 18.Hale T-Pole, 19.Naulia Dawai, 20.Nemia Kenatale, 21.Willis Halaholo, 22.Marty McKenzie.

Taranaki: 1.Carl Carmichael, 2.Rhys Marshall, 3.Shane Cleaver, 4.Jarrad Hoeata, 5.James Broadhurst, 6.Kane Barrett, 7.Berny Hall, 8.Blade Thomson, 9.Chris Smylie, 10.Daniel Brooks, 11.Waisake Naholo, 12.Isaia Tuifua, 13.Andre Taylor, 14.Jackson Ormond, 15.Kurt Baker.

Replacements: 16.Timo Tutavaha, 17.Sione Lea, 18.Nemia Soqeta, 19.Mitchell Crosswell, 20.Jamison Gibson-Park, 21.Rick McKenna, 22.Seta Tamanivalu.

Referee: Shane McDermott