Championship preview: Southland v Bay of Plenty

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Saturday, October 6, 2018    Campbell Burnes    Getty Images

Match details: Sunday October 7, 2.05pm at Rugby Park, Invercargill
Referee: Tipene Cottrell (Hawke’s Bay)
Played: 38 (1938-2017)
Wins: Bay of Plenty 20, Southland 16, Drawn 2
Last match: Bay of Plenty 57 Southland 0 (September 20, 2017, Championship)


The Southland Stags should be buoyed by how they acquitted themselves in the opening half of the Ranfurly Shield challenge against Waikato last Saturday.

The passing in the backs was much better and the tackling showed more accuracy, but then the second spell saw them overwhelmed 42-11 by the Mooloos, meaning their losing streak stands at 18 as they enter their ‘Storm Week.’

Bay of Plenty has lost six on the bounce, but Wednesday night’s 45-34 defeat to Otago saw no less than three intercept tries conceded. The Steamers are the longest of long shots to make the semifinals, but events in Whangarei on Saturday afternoon will determine whether that hope is snuffed out by kickoff.

As ever, scoring points is the main issue for the Stags, who have scored just 15 tries in seven games, as opposed to the Steamers’ 24 tries.


Stags No 7 Phil Halder is the Mitre 10 Cup’s joint-leading jackler, with seven turnovers from this method of winning possession. That is equal to Auckland’s Akira Ioane and Counties Manukau’s Fotu Lokotui, two renowned jacklers.


Happily for a head coach who has dealt with a crippling injury toll, the Steamers’ Clayton McMillan has named an unchanged starting XV.

Flanker Mitch Karpik, one of the best midweek, will play his 15th and blazer game for the union, while Lalomilo Lalomilo comes onto the bench.

Loosehead prop Ethan de Groot, another product of Southland BHS, wins his first start for the home side, while there is promise in the Ray Nu’u-James Wilson midfield combination, which gets another airing.

The Stags win a heap of turnovers and are well disciplined compared to Bay of Plenty (65 to 90 penalties conceded), so now is the time to show some fluency with the ball and a concerted 80-minute pack effort.

The phrase ‘nothing to lose’ could have been coined for this clash, so expect plenty of tries, plenty of points and plenty of action.

Tauasosi Tuimavave, Isaac Te Tamaki, James Wilson (c), Raymond Nu’u, Lewis Ormond, Broc Hooper, Jay Renton, Tony Lamborn, Phil Halder, Ray Tatafu, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Ben Fotheringham, Morgan Mitchell, Jesse MacDonald, Ethan de Groot
Reserves: Andrew Ready, Shaun Stodart, Reuben Northover, Presley Tufuga, Bill Fukofuka, Nico Costa, Tayler Adams, Matt Johnson

Bay of Plenty: Chase Tiatia, Bailey Simonsson, Liam Steel, Terrence Hepetema, Fa’asiu Fuatai, Kaleb Trask, Luke Campbell, Hoani Matenga, Mitch Karpik, Tyler Ardron (c), Kane Leaupepe, Baden Wardlaw, Ross Geldenhuys, Tom Crozier, James Lay
Reserves: Valentine Meachen, Josh Davey, Jeff Thwaites, Aaron Carroll, Zane Kapeli, Richard Judd, Reece MacDonald, Lalomilo Lalomilo