Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Trailing by 12 points in the final quarter, Elliot Dixon and Marty Mckenzie dotted down in quick succession to hand the Stags a superb comeback win much to the disappointment of the boisterous crowd at Bay Park Stadium.
After falling to their third consecutive defeat against Wellington last week, Steamers captain Willie Ripia looked set to lead his side out of the slump with 20 points from his boot while Kimami Sitauti contributed a try.
But the pair could do nothing but watch as Scott Eade (13 points) slotted a late penalty to deny them a bonus point which could prove crucial as they aim to avoid relegation.
Ripia's flawless kicking display kept the home side in the game when the momentum was firmly with Southland, who enjoyed a brief lead in the opening half thanks to hooker Talemaitoga Tuapati.
However, the tides changed when Sitauti struck as the half-time siren sounded. His effort from close range handed the Steamers a 19-13 lead as they headed up the tunnel at the break.
Ripia kept the pressure in the second spell and extended his side's advantage to 12 points with his fifth and sixth penalty goals.
Although Southland coach David Henderson will be pleased with his side's defence, it became apparent that they needed to create points, while ill-discipline is sure to be spoken about at length in coming days.
The introduction of replacements Michael Fatialofa and David Hall proved to be the catalyst as Southland's forwards took control and were able to nudge Dixon across the whitewash after their scrum was annihilated.
With the deficit cut to just five points, Mckenzie took it upon himself to produce something special.
His grubber through the line caught the defence napping as it became a contest between him and wing Gareth Williams-Spiers to score.
Fullback Robbie Robinson was quiet but produced the most exciting moment in the opening stanza when he cut the defence to shreds, although replays supported suggestions that he was assisted by obstruction.
Lock Hale T-Pole was denied his moment of glory after the break was finished with a pass that was later deemed to have travelled forward by the TMO.
Southland climbed to third place on the championship ladder with games remaining in the round.
Bay of Plenty: 25(Kimami Sitauti tries; Willie Ripia con, 6 pen) Southland: 33 (Talemaitoga Tuapati, Elliot Dixon tries, Marty Mckenzie tries; Scott Eade 3 con, 3 pen; Marty Mckenzie pen) HT: 19-13