Stags impress in first win

Southland Stags player Josh Moorby scores a try during his team's round nine Bunnings NPC match against Northland at Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill, on Saturday. Photo: Joe Allison/Getty Images

If Northland upsets Bay of Plenty then the Southland Stags will need to beat Taranaki in their final round robin game on Sunday.

The task in Inglewood will be a difficult one against the unbeaten Taranaki team.

The Stags are fresh off winning their first NPC game of the season, beating Northland 37-33 at Rugby Park in Invercargill last Saturday.

Southland’s bonus-point win pushed it into fourth spot in the championship standings with 13 competition points, one point ahead of Northland on 12.

Fortunately for Southland, the teams left in the competition were awarded two competition points from their cancelled games against the locked down Auckland teams. Southland had three fixtures against Auckland, Counties, and North Harbour cancelled.

If both Northland and Southland finish the round on the same amount of points, Southland will go through to the semis, because of the head-to-head rule.

The Stags have definitely improved in recent weeks and demonstrated their usual commitment as well as some attacking flair against Northland.

Northland’s tight forwards were able to get dominance at the breakdown and this resulted in penalties being conceded by Southland. But the Southland backs often broke through their opposition’s defence.

Northland started best and led 15-3 after 20 minutes. After a second Marty Banks penalty, Southland halfback Josh Renton weaved his way through the Northland defence and off-loaded to winger Josh Moorby to score.

In the 30th minute, Southland hit the front for the first time, with the ball moved from a ruck on the right, quickly to the left wing, where Solomon Alaimalo finished it off.

The Stags led 23-15 at half-time; a try to flanker Matt James extended the lead in the 48th minute as the Stags drove forward from a lineout.

Southland substitutes made a big impact, hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate powered his way over for the Stags’ fourth try.

team mate Jordan Stewart also impressed when he made his debut off the bench at No 8.

Northland finished the game best but the Stags held on to the win.

Centre Isaac Te Tamaki’s passing game was excellent and he was equally good defensively.

Three of his outside backs didn’t have as much luckvan Vugt, Marty McKenzie, and Josh Moorby all had to leave the field after head knocks while attempting tackles.