PREVIEW: Southland v Hawke's Bay

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Friday, August 17, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details: Southland v Hawke's Bay, Rugby Park, Invercargill, Sunday, August 19, 4.35pm

Played: 54
Won: Southland 28, Hawke's Bay 24, Draws 2
Last time: Hawke's Bay 24 Southland 16, Napier, August 19, 2017
Referee: Jamie Nutbrown


Southland, looking to extinguish memories of last season, embarked on a three-game warm-up programme beating a North Otago XV in Oamaru 34-7. They then fought out a thriller with Otago before losing 35-38 in Alexandra. They went to Auckland for a game against Northland, losing 12-24. Hawke's Bay played five warm-up games losing to Waikato 15-19, and beating Manawatu 27-24 and 41-33, Wairarapa Bush 57-12 and Tasman 31-22.


Talk about a blend of youth and experience, but that's what Southland are offering in terms of their leadership this year. When hooker Brayden Mitchell learned he had suffered a season ending neck injury two weeks ago, the side's most obvious candidate for captaincy duties was ruled out. Coach Dave Hewett has gone with a co-captaincy choice involving experienced, and peripatetic, utility back James Wilson, 35, and hooker Flynn Thomas, 20. That's a huge leap of faith in both departments. Wilson has been plying his trade around the world for the last five or six years while New Zealand Under-20s and NZ Secondary Schools player Thomas played all his 10 games for Southland last year, eight of them from the bench.


While the Magpies may be restricted due to injuries to loose forwards Will Tremain and Hannon Brighouse, lock Geoff Cridge and props Jason Long and Tim Farrell, captain Ash Dixon is excited about the shape of his side for the Invercargill game. He is enthused by the quality of players coach Mark Ozich has introduced to the side, especially two members from last year's outstanding Hastings Boys' High School 1st XV, prop Josiah Tavita-Metcalfe and halfback Folau Fakatava. Super Rugby prop Ben May will start off the bench having only joined the side this week and that will allow former Wellington prop Joe Apikotoa to start.


Southland have every reason to look for a win. They haven't beaten Hawke's Bay since 2012 when they won 35-7 in Invercargill.


Southland:1.Joseph Walsh, 2.Flynn Thomas, 3.Morgan Mitchell, 4.Ben Fotheringham, 5.Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 6.Wade McRae, 7.Phil Halder, 8.Tony Lamborn, 9.Jay Renton, 10.James Wilson, 11.Jackson Ormond, 12.Matthew Johnson, 13.Aleki Morris-Lome, 14.Isaac Te Tamaki, 15.Tauasosi Tuimavave.

Substitutes: 16.Andrew Ready, 17.Shaun Stodart, 18.Christopher Apoua, 19.Raymond Tatafu, 20.Bill Fukofuka, 21.Nicolas Costa, 22.Broc Hooper, 23.Lewis Ormond.

Hawke's Bay:
1.Mark Braidwood, 2.Ash Dixon, 3.Joe Apikotoa, 4.Tom Parsons, 5.Michael Allardice, 6.Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 7.Josh Kaifa, 8.Gareth Evans, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Tiaan Falcon, 11.Mason Emerson, 12.Tofilau Sasa, 13.Stacy Ili, 14.Jonah Lowe, 15.Jamie Jerry Taulagi.

Substitutes: 16.Ben Power, 17.Ben May, 18.Pouri Rakete-Stones, 19.Sam Ulufonua, 20.Devan Flanders, 21.Folau Fakatava, 22.Pasqualle Dunn, 23.Michael Buckley.