PREVIEW: Canterbury v Southland (Ranfurly Shield)

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Thursday, September 7, 2017    Getty Images

Match details: Canterbury v Southland, 5.45pm, Friday 8 September, AMI Stadium, Christchurch. TICKETS. 

Played: 103 (1890-2015)
Wins: Canterbury, Southland wins 28
Draws: 3
Last match: Canterbury 39 Southland 20 (2015)

The form of these two teams couldn’t be more contrasting. Canterbury have picked up where they left off in 2016 with three straight bonus point wins to sit at the top of the Premiership. Southland have struggled with losses to Hawke’s Bay, Northland and North Harbour to be left at the foot of the Championship.

Memories will still be fresh for Southland supporters of their Ranfurly Shield victories over Canterbury in 2009 and 2011. Veteran flanker Tim Boys was a part of those two victories and believes the Stags can repeat those heroics once again. "As a team we've been pretty tight and we are trying to make sure it is still enjoyable. Because as long as you are enjoying it you are going to go out, have fun, and hopefully play well. We've just got to believe in ourselves and have faith."

Elliott Dixon and Luke Whitelock are set for an immense battle in the No.8 jersey. Both players are knocking on the door of the All Blacks and have been key players for their side’s this season. Elliot Dixon sits second in most tackles made this year with 41 tackles from three games. With ball in hand he has proved dangerous with eight offloads placing him third on the season’s ladder. Luke Whitelock has led from the front in 2017 and will be eager to outperform his Highlanders teammate.

Despite Southland having picked up Ranfurly Shield victories over Canterbury in 2009 and 2011, we can’t see it happening again. Canterbury have been in ruthless form this season and have been boosted by the return of instrumental playmaker Richie Mo’unga at first five-eighth.

Canterbury: Alex Hodgman, Nathan Vella, Siate Tokolahi, Mitchell Dunshea, Dominic Bird, Reed Prinsep, Jed Brown, Luke Whitelock, Mitchell Drummond, Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, Kaveinga Finau, Tim Bateman, Marshall Suckling, George Bridge
Reserves: Nick Werahiko, Chris Gawler, Oliver Jager, Hamish Dalzell, Billy Harmon, Brett Cameron, Josh McKay

Southland: Joseph Walsh, Brayden Mitchell, Morgan Mitchell, Tepasu Thomas, Bill Fukofuka, Phil Halder. Tim Boys, Elliot Dixon, Liam Howley, Scott Eade, Michael Molloy, Matthew Johnson, Neria Fomai, Junior Ngaluafe, Lewis Ormond
Reserves: Thomas Flynn, Shaun Stodart, Guy Millar, Michael McKee, Tupou Sopoaga, Greg Dyer, Aleki Morris, Ryan Tongia