PREVIEW: Southland v North Harbour

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Convincing 35-14 winners when the sides last met, North Harbour go into the game enjoying Premiership status and looking to boost their cause for tougher games ahead by building on their win over Otago in Round One. Southland made an improved start to their campaign when pushing Hawke's Bay before losing 16-24. It took a big second half from the home team to get the win in Napier. But the signs were encouraging for Southland and back on home turf they should provide a tough test for North Harbour.

Played: 24

Wins: Southland 9, North Harbour 15

It seems first five-eighths Scott Eade has been around the Southland scene for an age, but it was 2011 when he made his debut, and he will complete his 50th game for the province when starting against North Harbour. A year of the that span was taken up in the Otago side in 2016 where he featured in 11 games for that side. It is a sign of the times that the only player still playing for Southland in that 2011 side is No.8 Elliot Dixon. There's little doubt that Eade's options to play in his preferred position at first five-eighths were reduced when Lima Sopoaga arrived from Wellington, but with his call-up to All Blacks duty this year, the chances are there for 24-year-old Eade to develop his hold on the position

North Harbour may not have been as fluid as they would have liked in their backplay against Otago, but they demonstrated the dangerous package they can call on, especially in their outside backs. It does help to have a strong halves pairing in Crusader Bryn Hall at halfback and Bryn Gatland at first five-eighths. If they are able to develop their game, then wings Tevita Li and Matt Duffie are capable of combining with fullback Shaun Stevenson to create all sorts of mayhem in broken play. North Harbour are without hard-working lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and that could make life tougher against a Southland lineout that worked well in Napier. But they also have a strong core with prop Nic Mayhew, hooker James Parsons and lock Jarrad Hoeata from which to provide the base needed by all sides.


Southland: 1.Joseph Walsh, 2.Brayden Mitchell, 3.Guy Millar, 4.Michael McKee, 5.Bill Fukofuka, 6.Phil Halder, 7.Tim Boys, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Liam Howley, 10.Scott Eade, 11.Aleki Morris, 12.James Schrader, 13.Matthew Johnson, 14.Ryan Tongia, 15.Lewis Ormond.

Substitutes: 16.Flynn Thomas, 17.Shaun Stodart, 18.Morgan Mitchell, 19.Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 20.Tupou Sopoaga, 21.Jay Renton, 22.Michael Molloy, 23.William Talataina-Mu.

North Harbour: 1.Nic Mayhew, 2.James Parsons, 3.Michael Tamoeaieta, 4.Brandon Nansen, 5.Jarrad Hoeata, 6.Glenn Preston, 7.Connor Collett, 8.Murphy Taramai, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Bryn Gatland, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Harrison Groundwater, 13.Matt Vaega, 14.Matt Duffie, 15.Shaun Stevenson.

Substitutes: 16.Adrian Smith, 17.Chris Eves, 18.Sione Mafileo, 19.Shane Neville, 20.Josh Tyrell, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Mark Telea, 23.Ben Volavola.