PREVIEW: Southland v Bay of Plenty

Getty Images

Tuesday, September 20, 2016    Getty Images

Match details: Southland v Bay of Plenty, 7.35pm Wednesday 21 September, Invercargill

Played: 35 (1939-2015)
Wins: Bay of Plenty 20, Southland 14, Draws 1
Last match: Bay of Plenty 26, Southland 10

Although Bay of Plenty have only recorded one victory so far this year, they have been boosted by five bonus points to sit in fourth place on the ladder. They battled hard against Wellington last week before succumbing 24-10 in an encounter which is closer than the score line suggests. Southland have been disappointing this year with five straight losses to sit at the base of the ladder.

The Stags have been boosted by the inclusion of All Black Elliot Dixon and Crusaders star Tim Boys for the first time this year. Dixon will start at openside flanker with Tongan international Mika Mafi at No.8 and the powerful Bill Fukofuka in the number six jersey. The hard working Boys will add impact from the bench. There has been some reshuffling in the Bay of Plenty backline with the injury withdrawal of second five Terrence Hepetema. Regular first five Dan Hollinshead shifts to second five with Kelly Haimona at number 10.

With Otago, Wellington and Manawatu handily placed in the top three spots on the Championship ladder, this shapes as a crucial clash for the coveted final spot in the semifinals. A win to Bay of Plenty will put them in pole position to scoop fourth spot (and possibly push for third) while a win to Southland will keep them in the hunt as the Mitre 10 Cup nears the business end of the season.

Southland: Junior Ngaluafe, Mike Molloy, Dylan Collier, James Schrader, Jaye Thompson- Te Muunu, Wharenui Hawera, Jimmy Cowan, Mika Mafi, Elliot Dixon, Bill Fukofuka, Matt Philip, Mike McKee, Guy Millar, Brayden Mitchell, Joseph Walsh.

Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Peni Ravi, Morgan Mitchell, Tim Boys, Josh Clark, Michael Dowsett, Greg Dyer, Keanu Kahukura.

Bay of Plenty: Isaac Te Aute, Monty Ioane, Teddy Stanaway, Dan Hollinshead, Regan Ware, Kelly Haimona, Ruki Tipuna, Joe Tupe, Hugh Blake, Jesse Parete, Culum Retallick, Troy Callander, Pingi Tala'apitaga, Liam Polwart, Aidan Ross.

Reserves: Joseph Royal, Solomona Sakalia, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, Shahn Eru, Henry Stowers, Te Aihe Toma, Nick Evemy, Te Rangi Fraser.