Scorpions running out of chances

TONY SMITH
Last updated 11:12 15/09/2012

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Southland's Byron Curtis will get another start at centre for the South Island Scorpions in the New Zealand's flagship provincial league competition.

Coach Mike Dorreen has stuck with a settled lineup for the Scorpions' "must-win" national provincial premiership rugby league clash with the Central Vipers tomorrow.

The Scorpions are desperate to open their Albert Baskerville Shield points account in Whanganui after defeats in the first two rounds.

Dorreen hopes to retain the same 17-man squad that lost 24-18 to the Akarana Falcons in Nelson last weekend.

"We've got a couple of guys who are a bit stiff and sore, we'll just see how they get through training [last night]," he said.

"This is pretty much a must-win game for the situation we're in. There's a pretty good focus on the job at hand."

The Scorpions' task is a simple one. They have to win their remaining four games to have a shot at making the premiership final.

They are fifth on the league ladder after picking up a bonus point - just ahead of the Central Vipers on points differential.

Dorreen said the Scorpions would rely on "our senior players, Kyle Leka, Jaye Pukepuke and James Baxendale, to lead from the front."

Captain Josh Reuben had a solid game at scrumhalf in difficult conditions against Akarana and Dorreen said the new-look team was starting to "get some combinations together".

Dorreen has seen some television footage of the Vipers, who had a talented halfback, Crete Cribb, "and a big solid centre who runs straight lines and a pretty solid forward pack, as well."

The Vipers collected their first win of the campaign last week, beating the Northern Swords 36-8 at Palmerston North.

Meanwhile, the Southland Rams take on the Tasman Titans in Invercargill today in the South Island provincial competition.

The game will be played at Elles Rd and will kickoff at 2.30pm.

The Scorpions squad is: Shane Bowden, Tyrone Edmonds, Jordan Kane, Byron Curtis, Thoren Fidow-Kele, Toimoana Sepuloni, Josh Reuben (c), Jaye Pukepuke, Josh Ka, Garry Hape, Kyle Leka, James Baxendale, Cole Green. Interchange: Peter Ah Tong, Patella Tou, Cameron Tukapua, Brad Austin.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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