Match preview: Northland vs. Southland


Thursday, September 29, 2005    Photosport

Southland came from behind to subdue a determined Bay of Plenty challenge 19-13 last Saturday night. “We weren’t quite as sharp as we had been prior to some of our earlier games and the workload probably had something to do with that,” Culhane says.

“With so many of our guys not being Super 14 players, they’re not used to the level of workload required as some of their counterparts in other teams, and that’s started to show a bit. As a result, we’ve worked on the basis of quality rather than quantity this week.”

Culhane says the result against Bay of Plenty did reflect the team’s development to an extent. “We’ve played better in other games and lost. To win a dog fight like that when we were expected to, without probably being at our overall best, was a promising sign,” he says.

“The players were a little too anxious at times. They’re not used to having that level of expectancy on them playing at this level, but it was a good indicator of their growth that we got out of it with the result we needed.”

That said, Culhane is only too aware of the potential for ambush that a trip to Northland represents. “They’ve got nothing to lose and will see us as a game they can really attack. What’s gone before means nothing. It’s going to be more hard slog up there and we know and are preparing ourselves for that.”

Northland are expecting to have skipper David Holwell back after he missed last weekend’s match against Auckland at Eden Park due to a shoulder injury. Flanker Allen Tubbs (rib) and experienced utility back Jared Going could also return after injuries as Northland, like their opponents, gain benefit from the extra day’s preparation ahead of the Sunday fixture.

“If we can get all those guys back, it’s going to help us a lot, but there were some good things at Eden Park that we can build on,” co-coach Donny Stevenson says. “We competed well at set phase and shared possession with Auckland. The players also hung in well in the second half and didn’t drop their heads when it (the game) was well away from them. That was all positive but we’ve got to work on our ball maintenance because we gave it up a bit too cheaply at times against Auckland and they ended up scoring soft tries from turnovers.”

While Southland won 30-27 in Whangarei two years ago, and 54-26 last year, Northland holds a slight advantage in the overall rivalry between the two in Air New Zealand NPC, having won 11 matches to nine.

Northland: Daniel Bowden, Mike Rowe, Jared Going, Josh Levi, Isoa Neivua, David Holwell, John Senio, Luke Ottley, Allen Tubbs, Jake Paringatai, Brad Taylor (captain), Isoa Domolailai, Stan Wright, Tim Dow, Bronson Murray.
Reserves: Jamie Pinder, Simon Lemalu, Buster Tahere, Mesake Davu, Cory Tamou, Karl Murray, Manu Burkhardt Macrae.

Southland: Pehi Te Whare, Illy Delasau, Ben Smith, Jason Kawau, Watisoni Lotawa, Richard Apanui, Jimmy Cowan, Paul Miller, Tim Boys, Daniel Quate, Hoani Macdonald, Kane Thompson, Jayden Murch, David Hall, Clarke Dermody (captain).
Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Craig Dunlea, Rees Logan, Hua Tamariki, Paul Dawson, Ryan Smith, Mana Harrison.

Northland v Southland, Whangarei
Kick-off: Sunday at 2.35pm
Referee: Bryce Lawrence (Bay of Plenty)
TAB Odds: Northland $5.00, Southland $1.15