Southland take care of North Harbour
Southland have breathed new life into their 2012 campaign with a hardworking 27-17 win over North Harbour in Auckland this afternoon.
The Stags played into the wind in the first half and trailed 10-8 at the break, but accurate goal-kicking from Scott Eade in difficult conditions and a try to Jimmy Cowan helped Southland record a second straight win in the NPC championship.
After missing an early tackle on Harbour centre Pita Ah Ki which let in a try, Boys turned in an outstanding performance amongst a Southland forward effort which dominated at the breakdown.
Stags hooker Jason Rutledge, who has not been in vintage form so far this campaign, was back to his nuggety best at the ruck, peeling away with a number of crucial turnovers.
Southland skipper Jamie Mackintosh was happy to claim back-to-back wins after losing the first four games of the season but he was unsure why his team's energy levels had been down during the game.
Boys made amends for his early miss after 12 minutes when a cut out pass from Cardiff Vaega and nice draw and pass from Scott McKee left him free on the right wing.
After working their way into a one point lead playing into the elements, the Stags then had their resolve tested as they spent the final quarter of an hour of the first half defending their line.
Despite Harbour having the edge in the scrum battle, Southland managed to keep their line intact.
At halftime, the Stags had made twice as many tackles as Harbour and only missed eight.
Eade's second penalty put Southland back into a one point lead and he edged them ahead again with another strike with half an hour to go.
Jimmy Cowan came on to replace Kade Poki, with Nemia Kenatale, who was solid in his starting debut for the Stags, going to the wing and Cowan scored a try after forcing a mistake out of Harbour from a 5m scrum.
With the game seemingly in hand, Southland may have been guilty of relaxing.
Hoani Macdonald slapped back a lineout steal and then Cowan fired a reverse pass which found no one.
Eade coughed the ball up under pressure and Bryn Hall scored to get Harbour back with seven points.
Harbour had their chances over the final minutes of the game, but another Eade penalty in the final minute sealed the victory.
Southland's win was tinged by the loss of Robbie Robinson after 17 minutes to an injury to his left foot, while Eade also seemed to struggle his way through with the hamstring injury which has troubled him.
The Stags return home to take on Northland in Invercargill on Wednesday night.
Southland 27 (Tim Boys, Jimmy Cowan tries; Scott Eade con, 5 pen) North Harbour 17 (Pita Ah Ki, Bryn Hall tries; Luke Devcich 2 con, pen). HT: 8-10
The Southland Times