Stags eyeing a double win for title hopes

Southland Stags player Matt Whaanga breaks away for a try during the round eight Bunnings NPC match between Wellington and Southland at Porirua Park, in Wellington, last Saturday. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

THIS Saturday the Southland Stags play their round six National Provincial Championship (NPC) game against Northland at Rugby Park in Invercargill at 2pm.

The Stags are yet to win this season but because the alert level restrictions have taken Counties and North Harbour out of the competition, Southland can still make the semi-finals of the NPC Championship if the team can beat Northland and then Taranaki.

The Stags were beaten 24-22 by Wellington in a non-championship NPC fixture in Porirua last weekend.

There was plenty to like about the Stags’ performance; their defensive attitude was at their usual high standard and their attack fired up on occasion.

Right wing Josh Moorby carried on his good form and scored an impressive try.

Referee Cam Stone didn’t do Southland any favours throughout the match, the 17-5 penalty count against them proved costly.

Southland led 22-12 with just over 10 minutes to play when fullback Marty McKenzie was yellow-carded after he attempted to intercept a pass and failed to regather.

Almost immediately after McKenzie left the field, Wellington used its overlap out wide to score.

Then, in the last play of the game, Wellington chased a grubber kick through into the vacant space at the back and regathered to score the match winner.

Southland’s outside back Solomon Aliamalo is expected to be fit to play against Northland but playmaker Marty Banks and lock Mike McKee are unlikely starters this weekend after taking head knocks in Wellington.