PREVIEW: Southland v Manawatu

Getty Images

Thursday, September 28, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Southland v Manawatu, Rugby Park, Invercargill, Saturday, 2.35pm

Southland have made four changes to their starting line-up from the side that lost to Tasman. Brayden Mitchell is back at hooker for Thomas Flynn while Joseph Walsh is at loosehead prop for Shaun Stodart. Phil Halder is back on the flank for Tupou Sopoaga while Neria Formai will play at centre for Lewis Ormond. Manawatu will be without two experienced players. Fullback Kurt Baker has suffered a hamstring strain while flanker Nick Crosswell's season is over due to a neck injury. Making his debut for Manawatu will be Brayden Iose, the New Zealand Secondary Schools' captain last year. A loose forward he will come off the bench and can play in each of the loose positions. Also making his debut will be fullback Te Rangatira Waitokia. His background is with Wanganui where he was the player of the year last year for the Heartland side. Making his first start of the season, having come off the bench in his earlier games will be former Southland prop Tuki Raimona. Also making his first start will be Canterbury loan hooker Tom Crozier. The inside-back pairing of halfback Jamie Booth and first five-eighths Jade Te Rure have been retained ahead of Kayne Hammington, who has recovered from a quad injury, and Otere Black.

Played: 45
Wins: Southland 18, Manawatu 24, Draws 3
Last Time: Southland 31 Manawatu 34, Palmerston North 2016

If there is one factor that has resulted in Southland having such a miserable time in the Championship it is their inability to take advantage of chances to post tries. They are the poorest performing side in the competition, by a street, having scored only 11 tries to date with the next lowest being Hawke's Bay on 18. Manawatu shares third lowest place on 20 with Auckland so things will need to improve markedly from both sides, but Southland especially, if they are to provide entertainment on Saturday. Just why they haven't been able to capitalise is evident in other statistics where the sides efforts compare reasonably well with better sides. This is borne out in the clean breaks Southland have made. Their 76 ranks them sixth among all teams while Manawatu's 58 has them third from the bottom. And in defenders beaten Southland's 127 is much better than lowest-ranked Manawatu on 88. Southland has also made 2646 metres compared to 2191 by Manawatu, again on the bottom of the national list. There's no doubting the Southlanders can tackle as their success rate is 84.5 percent compared to 81.2 for Manawatu. While Southland is fourth in the country on offloads with 84 while Manawatu have 56.


Southland: 1.Joseph Walsh, 2.Brayden Mitchell (captain), 3.Guy Millar, 4.Manaaki Selby-Ricket, 5.Michael McKee, 6.Phil Halder, 7.Tim Boys, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Jay Renton, 10.Scott Eade, 11.Aleki Morris, 12.Matthew Johnson, 13.Neria Fomai, 14.Michael Molloy, 15.Ryan Tongia.

Substitutes: 16.Thomas Flynn, 17.Shaun Stodart, 18.Morgan Mitchell, 19.Bill Fukofuka, 20.Tupou Sopoaga, 21.Liam Howley, 22.Greg Dyer, 23.James Schrader.

Manawatu: 1.Tuki Raimona, 2.Tom Crozier, 3.Sean Paranihi, 4.Tom Parsons, 5.Jackson Hemopo, 6.Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 7.Antonio Kiri Kiri, 8.Harrison Brewer, 9.Jamie Booth, 10.Jade Te Rure, 11.Ambrose Curtis, 12.Jason Emery, 13.Lewis Marshall, 14.Newton Tudreu, 15.Te Rangatira Waitokia.

Substitutes: 16.Hunter Prescott, 17.Fraser Armstrong, 18.Sione Asi, 19.Liam Mitchell, 20.Brayden Iose, 21.Kayne Hammington, 22.Otere Black, 23.Curtis Reid.