Auckland ease pressure with victory in Invercargill

Getty Images

Friday, September 15, 2017    Getty Images

It was a dance of two desperate sides in Invercargill, and Southland looked the more desperate of the two in an inspired opening 20 minutes. The Stags were all over the visitors in the opening stages and leapt to a 7-0 lead when Captain Brayden Mitchell crashed over following a steady forward build up. 


Auckland had a strong wind at their back but couldn’t make use of it in the face of an organised and committed Southland defensive line. With Southland dominating the lineouts and taking a slight edge at scrum time, it was hard to see where Auckland’s points would come from.

Despite their slow start to 2017, Auckland are full of world class game breakers and proved it with two tries in the matter of minutes to snatch the lead. The first try was down to attrition as Auckland hammered on the Southland line before Jerome Kaino crashed over. The second try was a breakaway special as flanker Blake Gibson showed his attacking ability to set up Vince Aso for a spectacular finish.

It was an ominous sign but Southland were not prepared to roll over on their home track and struck back instantly when halfback Liam Howley scooted over.

Auckland had the final say in the half with a Jono Hickey penalty to take a 15-14 lead into the break.

Last week Southland conceded 61 second half points against Canterbury. This week a much improved defensive effort saw only 12 second half points conceded through tries to Greg Pleasents-Tate and Taleni Seu.

It proved to be 12 points too many as all Southland could add in the second half was a lone Scott Eade penalty.

The 27-17 loss means that Southland remain without a competition point in 2017 while Auckland move up to 11 points and are now back in the hunt for a Premiership playoffs spot.

Southland 17 (Brayden Mitchell, Liam Howley tries, Scott Eade 2 con, pen) Auckland 27 (Jerome Kaino, Vince Aso, Greg Pleasents-Tate, Taleni Seu, tries, Jono Hickey 2 con, pen)
HT: 14-15