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PREVIEW: Southland v Northland

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Friday, September 1, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Southland v Northland, Rugby Park, Invercargill, September 2, 5.05pm

TALE OF THE TAPE

Northland have rung the changes and clearly see the four points on offer in Invercargill as gettable. Seven personnel changes, and five positional changes have been made. Back at centre is Rene Ranger while Solomain Alaimalo is at fullback with Jordan Hyland and Jone Macilai on the wings. Jack Goodhue will play at second five-eighths and Dan Hawkins has the start at first five-eighths. At No.8 for the first time this year will be Matt Matich. Jack Ram is at openside flanker while Murray Douglas will move from lock to the blindside flank.

QUICK TAP: WELLINGTON TOO GOOD FOR BAY OF PLENTY IN THE WET

Played: 38
Wins: Southland 19, Northland 18, Drawn 1
Last time: Southland 39 Northland 31, Invercargill 2016

SOUTHLAND NEED TRIES
Northland are expecting a tough contest around the breakdown, an area of strength for the Southlanders who enjoy a ruck success rate of 95.7 percent just ahead of Northland and they are expecting an 80-minute struggle. Southland's problem is going to be scoring tries. They have only three to show for their efforts so far this season while Northland have scored five. Southland for all its reputation as a stodgy forward-dominated side has gained 931 metres from 203 carries this year as opposed to 833 and 243 by Northland and has the ability to create opportunities with 24 clean breaks made, in comparison to 16 by Northland, but it is in their execution that the Southlanders have been unable to capitalize. Thirty-three turnovers conceded is still fractionally better than 35 by Northland but the home side will need to make better use of their chances if they are to succeed.

BREAKDOWN BATTLE
At the breakdown it is likely the contest will be largely based around home town product Tim Boys, who has played 125 games for Southland, and Northland's Tongan international Jack Ram who has made 28 appearances for his side. In the season to date Boys in his 142 minutes of play has made 21 tackles for a 91.3 percent success rate while Ram in 119 minutes has made 18 tackles at 94.7 percent. Ram has been much more involved with ball in hand making 18 carries to six by Boys and with a try as well. Ram also leads in metres gained at 23 to 14 but Boys has made seven passes to one by Ram.

TEAMS:
Southland: 1.Joseph Walsh, 2.Brayden Mitchell, 3.Guy Millar, 4.Michael McKee, 5.Bill Fukofuka, 6.Phil Halder, 7.Tim Boys, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Liam Howley, 10.Scott Eade, 11.Aleki Morris, 12.James Schrader, 13.Matthew Johnson, 14.Ryan Tongia, 15.Lewis Ormond.

Substitutes: 16.Flynn Thomas, 17.Shaun Stodart, 18.Morgan Mitchell, 19.Tepasu Thomas, 20.Tupou Sopoaga, 21.Jahvis Wallace, 22.Michael Molloy, 23.Greg Dyer.

Northland: 1. Ross Wright, 2.Matt Moulds (captain), 3.Phil Kite, 4.Joshua Goodhue, 5.Tim Bond, 6.Murray Douglas, 7.Jack Ram, 8.Matt Matich, 9.Sam Nock, 10.Dan Hawkins, 11.Jone Macilai, 12.Jack Goodhue, 13.Rene Ranger, 14.Jordan Hyland, 15. Solomon Alaimalo.

Reserves: 16.Jordan Olsen, 17.Howard Sililoto, 18.Chris Apoua, 19.Jaycob Matiu, 20.Kara Pryor, 21.Matty Marwick, 22.Peter Breen, 23.Blake Hohaia.