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Preview: Southland v North Harbour

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Saturday, September 21, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 20, Southland 7, North Harbour 13

LAST TIME: North Harbour 17 lost to Southland 27 at Albany, 2012

WALKING WOUNDED: Southland's main injury concern is related to three-quarter Bryan Milne who will have a fitness test before the game.

FORM: Normally wins by Southland over Waikato (20-16) and Bay of Plenty (33-25) would be cause for some rejoicing but they come on the back of some disappointing losses. However, the manner of the win over Bay of Plenty showed a more comfortable approach with the ball being given plenty of air. That will be needed again, but also with determination in defence because North Harbour have some dangerous runners like Francis Saili, David Raikuna and Nafi Tuitavake in their backline.

North Harbour come into the game on the back of their first win of the season, over Tasman 23-16, and with few changes from that success, James Parsons' men will be looking to claim another win.

WE THINK: Southland, back on their home track after a positive display, albeit with some disturbing inconsistencies, will be buoyed and should prove a tough proposition for the Harbour side who have battled for cohesion throughout the competition. But if they get a sniff, they are well capable of blowing a game apart. We thinkSouthland by 6.

TEAMS
Southland: 1.Jamie Mackintosh, 2.David Hall, 3.J.P.Koen, 4.Josh Bekhuis, 5.Michael Fatialofa, 6.John Hardie, 7.Tim Boys, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Scott Eade, 10.Marty McKenzie, 11. Gareth Williams-Spiers, 12.Willis Halaholo, 13.Cardiff Vaega, 14. Bryan Milne/Tim Cornforth, 15.Robbie Robinson.

Replacements: 16.Talemaitoga Tuapati, 17.Nick Barrett, 18.Hale T-Pole, 19.Naulia Dawai, 20.Tayler Adams, 21.Calvary Fonoti, 22.Cornforth/Keanu Kahukura.

North Harbour:
1. Greg Pleasants Tate, 2. James Parsons (c), 3. Ben Afeaki, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Irwin Finau, 6. Jordan Manihera, 7.Malakai Ravulo, 8. Vili Fihaki, 9. Brenton Helleur, 10.Jon Elrick, 11. David Raikuna, 12. Francis Saili, 13. Pita Ahki, 14. Nafi Tuitavake, 15.Codey Rei.

Substitutes: 16.Ray Niuia, 17. Alex Woonton, 18.Brandon Nansen 19.Scott Uren, 20.Bryn Hall, 21.Tua Saseve, 22.James Semple.