Championship preview: Southland v Otago

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Thursday, September 13, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Match details: Saturday September 15, 4.35pm at Rugby Park, Invercargill
Referee: James Munro (Canterbury)
Played: 241 (1887-2017)
Wins: Otago 149, Southland 82, Drawn 10
Last time: Otago 43 Southland 19 (October 14, 2017, Championship)


The Donald Stuart Memorial Trophy is again on the line in this 242nd encounter between the two southernmost unions.

Otago has made no race of it recently, comfortably winning the last four straight clashes.

The Stags are still hunting for their first victory in almost two years, so will again rely on opensider Phil Halder to win his share of pilfers. His six turnovers are superseded by only one other player in the 2018 Mitre 10 Cup. Halder is doing his best Tim Boys impersonation for the Stags.



The two captains at rake, Flynn Thomas versus Sam Anderson-Heather, will lock horns.

Thomas is a product of Southland BHS and has represented New Zealand Under 20, while Anderson-Heather gained wider recognition last year as the impressive leader of the NZ Barbarians Provincial XV.

How they both fulfil their core tasks will be instructional. The Stags are operating at 80 percent lineout efficiency, while Otago is running at 84 percent. It will be imperative to connect with their jumpers to ensure a steady flow of ball for their respective backlines.

They should get a decent crowd in Invercargill for the latest reprise of this fierce rivalry.

The Stags will be underdogs, with just two bonus points to show in the Championship. They showed some life against Counties Manukau but the defence continues to be an issue. Can co-captain James Wilson spark the Stags attack and free up some space for Isaac Te Tamaki to show us the pace we know he possesses?

Otago has been hit heavily by injury, and has now lost prop Aki Seiuli for the season with a knee injury. Now is the time for Michael Collins and Matt Faddes to show their class in the threequarters, while first five Josh Ioane would do well to continue his prime goalkicking form.

No 8 Dylan Nel has been in good form, and lock Josh Dickson is the go-to lineout man. But coach Ben Herring would rather not have another ‘win ugly’ scenario as he faces down his old province. The Razorbacks beat Northland 27-23 in a forgettable encounter last Friday. Having said all that, Herring may just be content to take any victory in this time-honoured fixture.

Lewis Ormond, Isaac Te Tamaki, Matt Johnson, James Wilson (co-c), Rory van Vugt, Tayler Adams, Nico Costa, Bill Fukofuka, Phil Halder, Tony Lamborn, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Ben Fotheringham, Morgan Mitchell, Flynn Thomas (co-c), Shaun Stodart
Reserves: Jesse MacDonald, Ethan de Groot, Chris Apoua, Raymond Tatafu, Jack Capil, Jay Renton, Broc Hooper, Aleki Morris-Lome

Otago: Michael Collins, Mitchell Scott, Matt Faddes, Sio Tomkinson, Jona Nareki, Josh Ioane, Kurt Hammer, Dylan Nel, Naulia Dawai, Joketani Koroi, Josh Dickson, Sione Misiloi, Donald Brighouse, Sam Anderson-Heather (c), Tom Hill
Reserves: Seko Pole, Jonah Aoina, Hisa Sasagi, Tom Rowe, Slade McDowall, Melani Matavao, Matt Whaanga, Vilimoni Koroi