Stags roar through BOP

Saturday, October 11, 2008    

Southland ran in six tries to Bay of Plenty's one in a game that showed up the Stag's rounded abilities and punished the home sides inability to convert attacking opportunities into points.

The face-paced nature of the game gifted players like Southland winger Pehi Te Whare who claimed two tries and created numerous opportunities for a side that looks to have a real shot against Wellington in the semi-finals next weekend.

Bay of Plenty looked lethal right from the get-go and went close in the far left corner before the ball was quickly passed to the right to second five-eighths Nigel hunt who showed great strength to barge over the line and score the home sides first of the night.

Southland hit back brilliantly in the next minute however, when wing Pehi Te Whare sprinted through a gap before passing inside and then recollecting the ball himself before fending off a defender and scoring for the Stags.

Stags' first five-eighths Blair Stewart nailed the extra two and gave the visitors the advantage with the 7-5 score line after seven minutes of intense rugby.

Bay of Plenty first five-eighths Mike Delany was able to regain the lead for his side in the 19th minute when he slotted a 40 metre penalty in the stiff Mt Maunganui breeze.

Te Whare soon struck again after a prolonged Southland attack when he again pieced the defence before popping a pass inside to halfback Jimmy Cowan who was rewarded with a good try for his excellent back-up play.

After looking like it would concede a try of its own for the next ten minutes, Southland ran in another try through big lock Josh Bekhuis against the run of play right.

The extra two were added by Stewart on the stroke of half time with the Stags holding a commanding 21-8 lead as the two sides left the field.

Stags prop Chris King was deservedly sin-binned in the opening stages of the second half when he illegally killed a perfect Bay of Plenty attacking opportunity right on Southland's line.

Southland was able to withstand the pressure however and soon sent the play all the way down the other end of the field.

Bay of Plenty made its way back down field and was gifted another three points through a Delany penalty that was expertly guided between the sticks in the face of the strong head wind.

Stewart was able to stretch the lead soon after when he charged down a Bay of Plenty clearing kick and regathered to score Southland's fourth try of the evening as King made his way back onto the field after completing his 10 minutes in the bin.

Bay of Plenty put together one of the longest periods of attack of the season as phase after phase saw the home side make its way down field although the Southland defence was up to the challenge and saw out the sustained pressure.

The pressure was soon turned against Bay of Plenty when it scored yet another great try through centre Jason Kawau that was easily converted by Stewart from right out in front of the posts with 15 minutes still to play.

Te Whare was able to rub some salt in the Bay of Plenty wounds when he picked the ball out of the back of a ruck and had an undisturbed dash towards the line to score his second as Southland continued its march towards the semi-finals.

The final five minutes of the game turned scrappy as the fast-paced nature of the game caught up with the players before referee Steve Walsh spelt the end of the game.

Southland claimed a huge 45-11 win and will now head down to Wellington to play the Lions in the semi-finals next week while Bay of Plenty finished what will be seen as a very successful season considering the complications surrounding the club.

Bay of Plenty 11 (Hunt try; Delany 2 pen)

Southland 45 (Te Whare 2, Cowan, Bekhuis, Stewart, Kawau tries; Stewart 6 con, pen)

HT: 21-8