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Hawke's Bay unleash lineout maul on Southland

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Sunday, August 19, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

It was a situation tailored to the qualities of the Bay pack where skipper and hooker Ash Dixon and No.8 Gareth Evans had plenty of say in setting the standards for their side.

Backing their efforts was a flawless goal-kicking display for former New Zealand Under-20s first five-eighths Tiaan Falcon who landed four conversions and a penalty goal.

Southland enjoyed long periods on attack with good field position but lacked the cutting edge through the middle of the field to make the most of their opportunities.

Absorbing the opening pressure Southland threw in, Hawke's Bay lifted their tempo courtesy of an injection of energy from Evans and in the resulting action penalties were conceded by the home team. Two of them saw kicks to the corner and from each the rolling maul was employed to precise effect with prop Mark Braidwood crossing in the 12th minute and flanker Josh Kaifa scoring in the 20th.

That gave Hawke's Bay a 14-0 lead but Southland pulled their game back together and with attacking intent provided by fullback Tauasosi Tuimavave and wing Isaac Te Tamaki, they enjoyed their own time on attack while also employing some lineout ploys of their own.

Instead of mauling the employed the pick-and-go to work the ball infield before halfback Jay Renton passed wide on the blindside to second five-eighths Matthew Johnson who absorbed the defence before slipping Te Tamaki the pass for a 24th minute try.

Hawke's Bay were given a boost when a long downfield kick by Renton went dead. A penalty was awarded from the resulting scrum just inside Southland's half, and then another penalty was conceded and Hawke's Bay opted to attempt another drive, even if 10m further out. It proved just as effective with skipper and hooker Ash Dixon crossing after the halftime hooter had sounded.

Dixon crossed again from yet another lineout maul in the 48th minute, a try which appeared to push the issue beyond Southland.

The home side had a solid spell on attack but the home defence was too strong, even if having lock Michael Allardice and Evans in the sin-bin at one stage for five minutes. Southland couldn't capitalise and it summed up much that was wrong with their game.

Scorers: Southland 10 (Isaac Te Tamaki tries; James Wilson con, pen) Hawke's Bay 31 (Mark Braidwood, Josh Kaifa, Ash Dixon 2 tries; Tiaan Falcon 4 con, pen). HT: 10-21