Taniwha rise to third in Championship

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Thursday, September 20, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

After making much of the early running with three tries, the Taniwha looked as though they would run rampant, but they became loose at the same time as the Stags brought more grit and commitment to their defence and forward exchanges.

Stags fullback Tauasosi Tuimavave was a late scratching, but it was James Wilson who raised the flags with an early penalty goal.


Taniwha No 8 Matt Matich, who is as committed as former Otago captain David Latta, started and finished the movement for the opening try. Then followed, in quick succession, tries by halfback Sam Nock, darting over from a ruck, and the industrious lock Murray Douglas after a marvellous build-up.

The Stags were again falling off too many tackles, while Taniwha prop Isi Tuungafasi was in bullocking form. Scott Gregory was a good foil for Rene Ranger in midfield.

But after halftime, when patience was the call, the home side just got loose, which coincided with the visitors marking up at the breakdown, while lock Manaake Selby-Rickit took it upon himself to win the lion’s share of lineout ball and stretched out for a try, along with putting his shoulder on in the rucks. Stags flanker Tony Lamborn was turning over ball and generally making a nuisance of himself.
But try as they might, the Stags could not find that cutting edge in the backline. The Taniwha, meanwhile, perked up enough for Douglas to score his second from a pick and go just before no-side.

It was far from pretty, but Northland might have lost this type of encounter a few years back. Now they are winning even if not on song and that is a mark of a decent side.

Northland is away to Hawke’s Bay next Wednesday, while Southland’s next outing will be a Ranfurly Shield challenge against Waikato on Saturday week.

Northland 26
(Murray Douglas 2, Sam Nock, Matt Matich tries; Jack Debreczeni 3 con) Southland 10 (Maanake Selby-Rickit try; Broc Hooper con, James Wilson pen) HT: 19-3 Northland