PREVIEW: Southland v Hawke’s Bay

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016    Getty Images

Match details: Southland v Hawke’s Bay, 7.35pm Thursday 15 September, Invercargill

Played: 52 (1902-2015)
Wins: Hawke’s Bay 22, Southland 28
Draws: 2
Last match: Hawke’s Bay 35 Southland 28 (2015)

The ladder doesn’t make for good reading for either team. Hawke’s Bay sit at the foot of the Premiership ladder with five losses from five games. Their last match was their worst outing of the season with a 63-7 drubbing at the hands of Canterbury. Southland have dropped four games with their best result coming in a nail-biting 34-31 loss to Manawatu in round two. 


Both teams have made a number of changes for this must-win clash. A big talking point for the Stags is the inclusion of 22-Cap Brumbies halfback Michael Dowsett on the bench. At first five, Wharenui Hawera steps into the 10 jersey in place of Lima Sopoaga who is with the All Blacks. Upfront, the explosive Peni Ravai will start from the bench with Joe Walsh in the number one jersey. Other changes include Western Force lock Matt Phillip starting at lock, Phil Halder starting at openside flanker in place of Wade McRae and Tauasosi Tuimavavae coming onto the left wing. For Hawke’s Bay, the backline is boosted by the inclusion of Brad Weber and Robbie Fruean who were missing from the side that lost to Canterbury last week.
Hawke’s Bay playmaker Ihaia West will be one to watch in his 50th match for the Magpies. West had a standout season for the Blues but hasn’t managed to replicate his Super Rugby form in the Mitre 10 Cup yet. With his team battling for survival in the Premiership, now is the time for West to stand up and spark his team to victory. With a competition low 78 team points for 2016, Southland will be looking to sevens specialist Dylan Collier to ignite their attack from second five.

Southland: Junior Ngaluafe, Tauasosi Tuimavave, Kieran Moffat, Dylan Collier, Jaye Thompson-Te Muunu, Wharenui Hawera, Jimmy Cowan, Mika Mafi, Phil Halder, Bill Fukofuka, Matt Philip, Mike McKee, Guy Millar, Brayden Mitchell, Joe Walsh.
Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Peni Ravi, Reuben Northover, Michael Stewart, Josh Clark, Michael Dowsett, James Schrader, Mike Molloy

Hawke's Bay: Matt Garland, Jonah Lowe, Robbie Fruean, Tiaan Falcon, Mason Emerson, Ihaia West, Brad Weber, Fa'alemiga Selesele, Tony Lamborn, Trent Boswell-Wakefield, Mark Abbott, Geoff Cridge, Ben May, Ash Dixon, Ricky Riccitelli.
Reserves: Jorian Tangaere, Jason Long, Tolu Fahamokioa, Ross Filipo, Ben Hamelink, Chris Eaton, Billy Ropiha, Ryan Tongia