Chasing pays off for Cornforth
It took 205 minutes - nearly three and a half hours of rugby - and when it came, it came out of the blue.
More accurately, it came from a Taranaki blunder when the visitors failed to field Scott Eade's long kickoff and Tim Cornforth raced through to secure the bouncing ball and score Southland's first try of the season early in the second half.
Wingers will chase 100 kickoffs hoping for that one loose bounce. It's rugby's version of a Lotto win.
"I was pretty lucky. After I dotted down the boys were saying ‘see, just keep chasing, it comes off'," Conforth said after the game.
Despite a third straight loss, it was important that the focus of the team didn't waver, the Australian said.
"It's hard, when we get on the front foot like that and lose by one point. We've just got to go back to the drawing board, as they say, and continue on for next week," he said.
"We are a pretty positive group but we are pretty hard on ourselves on the little things that have gone wrong.
"It's those little percentage errors that are causing the losses. I love playing with these guys and we all love playing for each other - we've got to keep that positive vibe."
The Stags weren't without strong contributors.
The second row of Josh Bekhuis and Michael Fatialofa emerged from a battering by the big Taranaki pack with some credit.
A couple of dodgy scrums and one important lineout at the start of the game aside, the Stags' set-piece stood up well and there was a period midway through the second half when they emerged from their fug to play their best running rugby of the season.
But they also gave up the gainline to the Taranaki ballrunners with ineffectual first-up tackling, kicked more in hope than with purpose and gave away too many penalties when their frustrations came to a head.
When the Stags do get their game together and play with pluck, and a bit of luck, it's going to be good to watch. It just needs to happen soon.
The Southland Times