Southland Rams prepare to take on Titans
The Southland Rams hope a final training session in Nelson this afternoon will brush off the cobwebs from a 13-hour minivan ride as they prepare to face the Tasman Titans in the 2012 South Island provincial final.
Southland have turned themselves from competition easybeats in 2011 to finalists this year, and it would be a remarkable transformation if they were to topple Tasman tomorrow.
The challenge of winning the final was always going to be tough, given Tasman are an exciting, well-organised and determined unit. However, add to this the fact the Rams have had to make the gruelling trip to Nelson in minivans the day before the game, and this assignment becomes even more daunting.
In round-robin play earlier in the season it was Tasman who took the honours in a 32-30 thriller in Invercargill.
Southland had plenty of opportunities in that game but lacked accuracy at key times. However, there was certainly plenty of desire.
The Rams have made a couple of adjustments to the team with Micky Seymour and Arfi Peteru - who both play for the Cowboys in the Southland club competition - brought into the mix.
The absence of fullback Javaan Fa'amoe-Ioane, who was unable to make the trip to Nelson, is a blow to Southland, but Peteru should provide a good replacement at the back.
Kickoff at Trafalgar Park in Nelson will be at 3pm tomorrow.
Southland Rams: Arfi Peteru, Rocky Pettigrew, Micky Seymour, Cheyenne Hiko, Jayleel Fa'amoe-Ioane, Korey Pennicott (capt), Pale Tuilagi, Omeka Raimona, Zane Hiko, Chee Turuwhenua, Shaun Tamariki-Todd, Tom Watts, Matt Birch. Interchange: Wiremu Karetai, Hone Adams, Sonny Rangitoheriri, Maurice Tala.
Tasman Titans: Lucas Bennett, Kaiapa Paul, Callum Smith, Sam Hedges, Jamein Bristowe (capt), Rangi Ngaruhe, Hayden Smith, Tamaio Piripi, Troy Wilson, James Piukala, Shannon Telfar, Jarrod Albert, Johnny Delore. Interchange: James Vailanu, Joe Collins, Freedom Walker, Hoani Takao.
The Southland Times