The Stags will put their season on the line against Northland on Wednesday night, but they will have to do it without Robbie Robinson.
The Chiefs player broke a bone in his left foot early in Saturday's 27-17 win over North Harbour in Auckland and will be out for the remainder of the national provincial championship season.
His last act for the Stags may well have been a brave effort to hobble back to retrieve a Harbour kick when it looked like Rudi Wulf was certain to sweep through and score, and Southland will need to show the same desperation against the Cambridge Blues when they clash at Rugby Park.
After two straight wins, the Stags are calling the horses back in after they appeared to have bolted following four straight losses.
A win over Northland would put Southland in touch with the semifinals of the championship, and while wins over premiership teams Canterbury and Taranaki appear to be tough assignments, victory over Manawatu in the final round of the regular season might be good enough.
But first they need to tame the Taniwha.
"When you are backed into a corner, you've just got to come out fighting," Southland coach David Henderson said.
"I thought that's what Harbour did [on Saturday] and we've got to do that on Wednesday."
Robinson's loss was a blow to a team not unfamiliar with losing key players to injury this season.
His exit meant Nemia Kenatale, solid in his starting debut at halfback, spent much of the second half on the wing and the Stags would have to be suitably versatile to cope without him this week, Henderson said.
"Robbie's an important member of the team and he adds a lot of value. When you don't have them you've just got to refocus on another player. It's a chance for Marty [McKenzie] to stand up."
The Stags looked flat against Harbour on Saturday, something Henderson was mulling over after the game. During the week he had looked to put the team on light duties but when it appeared to be backfiring there was a particularly draining training session.
In a short season, it's a formula which is difficult to get right.
The key to beating Harbour arguably came in the 15 minutes before halftime when Southland were struggling with the grind of playing into a strong wind.
Despite spending much of that time on their own goal line, they gave up only a penalty to Luke Devcich to trail 10-8 at the break.
"I didn't fancy going into halftime being 10 or 12 points down," Henderson said.
When Southland needed a big moment they were able to find it.
Often it was from a Harbour error - remember this is a team that is winless this season - a helpful call from the referee or some superb goal kicking from Scott Eade in difficult conditions.
But the biggest game turners were provided by Tim Boys and Jason Rutledge at the breakdown.
Boys ended the game with a face like a squashed pie, such was his commitment, while Rutledge turned in the sort of game he was renowned for.
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.
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