THE Southland Stags took their first tentative steps towards the Mitre 10 Cup season last Saturday, but it might be in Alexandra tomorrow where we get a better indication as to just where the Stags are at.
Southland beat a North Otago 15 team 34-7 in Oamaru in a performance which was far from polished, but it did provide a starting point.
It was the first of three preseason games for the Stags, with Otago to come in Alexandra tomorrow and then Northland in Auckland next Friday.
Before the game in Oamaru, coach Dave Hewett predicted a clunky performance given the coaching staff had overloaded the squad with information in the first official week together last week.
“There was a lot of information for them to take in. We wanted to give it to them all and then we could come back to certain aspects in the coming weeks,” Hewett said.
For large parts of the game it was a less than pleasing performance, but there were some positives to take out of it.
To North Otago’s credit they stayed with Southland for much of the game.
The Stags held a slender 10-7 lead early in the second half before a blistering final 20 minutes saw Southland take charge.
The Stags ran in four second-half tries to lock in the 34-7 win.
They scored six tries in total, with prop Morgan Mitchell, centre Aleki Morris, and fullback Tauasosi Tuimavave all scoring two tries apiece.
Mitchell scored the opening two tries in what was a strong performance from the tighthead prop.
Lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit also had a strong outing, while loose forward Tony Lamborn impressed in the second half.
Greg Dyer, off the bench, and wing Lewis Ormond looked dangerous at times.
Southland’s first Mitre 10 Cup game is against Hawke’s Bay in Invercargill on August 19.