Black (and red) day for Southland Stags

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 01/10/2012
Southland Stags
Getty Images

SERIOUSLY?: Southland players wait for yet another Tom Taylor conversion in their 84-0 hiding at the hands of Canterbury.

Relevant offers

Provincial

Taranaki wing Waisake Naholo to play NPC before departing for France Record profit, record low turnout Tasman put Nelson's Trafalgar Park firmly in the mix to host the Lions in 2017 Crusaders and Canterbury boss Hamish Riach resigned to not hosting Lions Former player Blair Foote named as new Waikato Rugby Union general manager Wellington Rugby Union looks to move on after tough period all round Wellington Rugby Football Union and Hurricanes sever shared chief executive role Trip for assistant coach Hoani Macdonald to strengthen Stags bond with Sharks Bad news likely for Wellington Rugby Union hierarchy as job losses loom Northampton sign Counties utility back Ahsee Tuala for rest of English season

The Stags have seven days to put the lowest point of their rugby careers behind them and regather some pride against Taranaki in Invercargill on Sunday.

Southland don't deserve to be in semifinal contention after yesterday's showing, where they leaked 12 tries in an 84-0 hiding at the hands of Canterbury.

It was the worst loss for Southland since the Stags were beaten 95-7 by Waikato in Hamilton in 1998.

No team that gives up 12 tries in 80 minutes and finds itself 49-0 down at halftime should have the right to be talking about playoffs.

But, given the format of the national provincial championship competition, where bizarrely four of the seven teams get the chance to make the playoffs, Southland still remain a chance with a five loss-three win record.

Only a spot in the playoffs and a successful late-season rally will go any way towards putting yesterday's limp performance behind them.

Whatever way you look at it and however hard you try to sugar-coat this one, it was one of Southland rugby's darkest days.

These players would never have pictured themselves on the receiving end of this onslaught, which started in the 11th minute with a try by halfback Willie Heinz and finished 12 tries later, in the 79th minute, when George Whitelock dotted down. In between those tries was a series of defensive errors by the Stags and, in the limited time they had the ball to play with, they looked clueless.

At the start of the season, opposition teams went wide early against the Stags and with little momentum were able to find holes at will. Those frailties looked to have been somewhat patched up in Southland's recent three-game winning streak but yesterday they resurfaced in alarming fashion and the powerful Canterbury lineup pounced.

Southland had line speed and structure to their defence in the first 10 minutes but after that it resembled something out of a Charlie Chaplin movie, with them running around with no idea.

It has to be acknowledged that Southland looked tired, probably not surprising, given it was their third game in nine days, while Canterbury sat at home waiting for them after a seven-day break.

While not one of the players or management will condone what they delivered in Christchurch yesterday, that short turnaround had to have bitten them.

Southland now must respond against Taranaki and then Manawatu in the final round, not just to keep their playoff hopes alive but, more importantly, to regain some pride in the maroon jersey.

The Southland wall that opposition teams have struggled to break through in recent years has crumbled and they have seven days to rebuild it.

Ad Feedback

- The Southland Times

Special offers
Opinion poll

What did you make of this year's ITM Cup?

It was as good a season as I can remember.

It was great to see the smaller provinces perform well.

I caught the odd game here and there.

Sorry, it was an utter snore-fest.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content