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Preview: Southland v Hawke's Bay

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 49, Southland 28, Hawke's Bay 20, Drawn 1

LAST TIME: Southland 35 beat Hawke's Bay 7, 2012 at Rugby Park Stadium

WALKING WOUNDED: Southland still have a concern over first five-eighths Marty McKenzie. He is bracketed with Scott Eade, but if McKenzie is fit, Eade will move to halfback ahead of Tayler Adams. Nick Barrett and Gareth Williams-Spiers were not fit to be considered.Mark Atkins is back at No.8 after recovering from the flu while Karl Lowe's hamstring injury has recovered and he has been named on the bench.

FORM: Southland have been on a winning streak, by their standards, through the last three rounds of the competition with two wins away from home against Bay of Plenty and Otago to their credit. They are playing with greater confidence than seen for some time and are serious challengers for a place in the semi-finals. Hawke's Bay, since losing the Ranfurly Shield have been struggling for consistency with losses to Taranaki (10-23) and Tasman (9-18) and wins over Northland (31-26) and North Harbour (55-10).

WE THINK: Buoyed by their success over old rival Otago in Dunedin, Southland will be riding the crest of a wave and be keen to wrap up the prospect of a home semi-final by claiming a win in this clash. They also have the chance to use the game as a dress rehearsal for their Ranfurly Shield challenge against Counties Manukau in the final round of pool play. Hawke's Bay do not have a good record in Invercargill and have that to overcome as much as the confidence of the home side. Winning away from home has not been one of their strengths this year. We pickSouthland by 7.

Teams:

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

Replacements: 16.Talemaitoga Tuapati, 17.Michael Peterson, 18.Hale T-Pole, 19.Naulia Dawai, 20.Tayler Adams/Nemia Kenatale, 21.Calvary Fonoti, 22.Keanu Kahukura.

Hawke's Bay: 1.Adrian Barone, 2.Ash Dixon, 3.Brendon Edmonds, 4.Michael Allardice, 5.Mark Abbott, 6.Mike Coman (captain), 7.Brendon O'Connor, 8.Mark Atkins, 9.Alby Mathewson, 10.Ihaia West, 11.Zac Guildford, 12.Andrew Horrell, 13.Richard Buckman, 14.Telusa Veainu, 15. Trinity Spooner-Neera.

Replacements: 16. Ged Robinson, 17. Max Hahiff, 18.Trent Boswell-Wakefield, 19.Karl Lowe, 20.Chris Eaton, 21.Adam Bradey, 22.Penikolo Latu.