Pressure mounts as Southland Metro come up short

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 09/09/2013

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Southland Metro's campaign in the South Island second tier provincial rugby competition is hanging in the balance.

Their season may be over following a 31-13 loss to Otago Development at Rugby Park in Invercargill.

Southland Metro, Southland Country, Otago Development and Otago Country are playing off to find the two teams that will take on teams from the Crusaders region in South Island semifinal playoffs.

A win over the high-flying Otago Development team on Saturday would have put them in the box seat but they come up short.

Metro first five-eighth Sonny Rangitoheriri opened the scoring with a penalty as they grabbed a 3-0 lead but it was short-lived as Otago Metro gained control and led 11-3 at halftime.

Southland Metro bounced back with second-half tries to Keanu Kahukura and Talemaitoga Tuapati but it wasn't enough.

It was former Stags player Nick Annear who put the knife into Southland Metro's chances when late in the game the replacement Otago development halfback made a nice darting run to set up a try.

Southland Metro coach Damien Pine said he was proud of his team's performance as the they put an Otago team under pressure who had racked up 141 points in their two previous outings.

Pine was frustrated with the officiating believing his team did not get the "rub of the green" throughout the 80 minutes and that put them on the back foot.

The positive was that various Stags squad members who have seen few minutes in the national provincial championship got much-needed game time.

The Stags Fijian trio of Nemia Kenatale, Talemaitoga Tuapati and Naulia Dawai all had strong games.

The Southland Metro's season hangs on what happens in the Southland Country-Otago Country game at Ohai-Nightcaps this Saturday.

At the moment Otago Development are confirmed as South Island semifinalists with 14 points. Southland Metro have 6, Southland Country 5 and Otago Country are not yet on the board.

Southland Metro need Otago Country to win and also deprive Southland Country of any bonus points so see them finish in the final two.

The positive for Southland is either Southland Country or Southland Metro will take part in the playoffs.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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