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Country side plans running game

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2013

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Don't expect the traditional forward-dominated game plan from the Southland Country team when they take on their Southland Metro counterparts at Rugby Park this afternoon.

Country coach Jeff Clearwater is wary of a strong town pack dominated by members of the Galbraith Shield-winning Woodlands team.

The Country team will look to compete at the breakdown and give as much ball as they can to their backs.

"Hopefully, we'll put in a good performance," Clearwater said.

"We've come together pretty well."

Country enjoyed a good campaign last season, making it through to the semifinals of the combined Highlanders-Crusaders regional competition.

Southland's two teams play Otago Country and the Otago development team in a round-robin, before the top two teams advance to the semifinals against the two top teams from the Canterbury area.

Metro coach Damien Pine said his team hoped to redeem itself after losing the corresponding fixture last year.

"Last year, the Metro team let themselves down against Country and that probably cost us a place in the semifinals. We've talked about that during the week and want to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Keanu Kahukura will play on the right wing after making his starting debut for the Stags last weekend, an example of the co-operation between the Metro team and the Stags.

"We've talked about not only redeeming ourselves from last year, but also the fact that the Stags squad is quite small this year and it's only going to take a couple of injuries and guys are going to get opportunities," Pine said.

"It's important that every time they are playing, they are playing at close to NPC level. It's fortunate that we run the same systems as the Stags, so that allows guys to go up and down easily."

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- The Southland Times

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