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Northland end away loss record in style

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Saturday, September 2, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Continuing their impressive start to the season the Northland side utilised their marauding forwards to give their talented outside backs plenty of opportunity to use the ball and when one of those players is centre Rene Ranger fireworks are likely. He didn't disappoint.

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That was evident almost from the outset and in the 19th minute when poor Southland tackling complemented strong running earlier in the move by Ranger who threatened to score the opener himself after some fine continuity with No.8 Matt Matich. But when play swung left it was left wing Jone Macilai who beat three poor Southland efforts at the tackle and then found second five-eighths Jack Goodhue who scored.

Southland were further punished for their defensive shortcomings when after several strong run were made in the midfield by Ranger, Goodhue and Macilai fullback Solomon Alaimalo joined the line and drew his man to give wing Jordan Hyland a clear run at the line.



Then just before half-time, it was the turn of the bigger men, locks Josh Goodhue and Tim Bond, flanker Murray Douglas and hooker Matt Moulds to take the ball forward after Southland knocked on a clearing kick after the re-start. Halfback Sam Nock was also involved but got quickly back to his feet and was able to grab the ball from the ruck created by a strong surge by flanker Jack Ram to race down the blindside for the simplest of tries.

Ranger was in unstoppable form throughout and it was 58th minute dab kick through to Southland's 22m area that provided the chance for Macilai and he didn't waste the chance.

Despite enjoying the lion's share of the possession, especially in the first half, Southland were unable to capitalise and it was typical of their woes that from a lineout the ball was lost and Hyland, Ranger, replacement Kara Pryor all handled before Jack Goodhue charged down the flank and drew the defence to put Alaimalo away for a 65th minute try.

For the home side there was scant consolation when left wing Aleki Morris capped a 15-phase build-up for the Southlanders, easily their best continuity of the game, to score on the opposite wing.

But Northland weren't finished and replacement hooker Jordan Olsen scrambled over in the corner after more strong ball carrying with vital thrust provided by Matich.

Scorers: Southland 13 (Aleki Morris try; Scott Eade 2 pen; Greg Dyer con) Northland 44 (Jack Goodhue, Jordan Hyland, Sam Nock, Joni Macilai, Solomon Alaimalo, Jordan Olsen tries; Dan Hawkins 4 con, 2 pen). HT: 6-22