Southland's second half blues a head scratcher for Stags captain Brayden Mitchell

Southland captain Brayden Mitchell, pictured leading the Stags out for the Ranfurly Shield game against Canterbury, is ...
Kai Schwoerer

Southland captain Brayden Mitchell, pictured leading the Stags out for the Ranfurly Shield game against Canterbury, is hopeful of an 80 minute performance from his team against Auckland.

​Brayden Mitchell has had a familiar question put to him during the past week.

The Stags captain admits he struggles for a response.

The question is centred around Southland's horror second half performances in their opening four games of the season.

Against Hawke's Bay and North Harbour, they led at halftime only to be bowled over in the second half and lose.

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Last Friday they went to halftime buoyed at 17-17 in their Ranfurly Shield challenge against Canterbury in Christchurch, only for it all to come crashing down.

The Stags leaked 61 second half points to go from 17-17 to lose 78-20.

So just why the second blues?

That question which the bloke they call Scratcher so often gets at the moment.

"I've had this conversation with quite a few people - and look - if I had the answer it probably wouldn't have happened four games in a row.

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"It is hard to pinpoint a certain aspect. Hopefully, once we find out what's going on we can fix it and hopefully come out on the right side of the scoreboard after 80 minutes, rather than 40 minutes," Mitchell said.

"If you are another team looking at reviewing us you would probably say, 'if we can hold them out for 40 or 50 minutes we can run away with it'. We need to counter act that."

Mitchell and his Stags team mates' next opportunity to put that 80-minute performance together will be against Auckland at Rugby Park in Invercargill on Friday night.

Auckland's record to date this season doesn't mirror the quality they have in their setup. Mitchell is well aware of the challenge in front of them.

"If they turn up they are a team that can tear you apart if you are not switched on."

The 0-4 start to the season has been frustrating for Southland and bit by bit has lumped more pressure on them to get it right.

Mitchell feels a win would provide the Stags team with a much-needed confidence boost and point them in the right direction.

"You look at the Auckland team, the whole 23 have just about played Super Rugby, and four or five have been in the All Blacks camp.

"If you put the shoe on the other foot we've probably only got Guy Millar who is a fulltime Super Rugby player.

"We're a bloody young team, and I hate to say it, but we're going through a bit of a rebuilding phase, as a lot of the teams have done over the years.

"Getting a win would give the young fellas a lot of confidence and give them that self-belief that we can match it with some of these big boys and let them know we are good enough." 

"I guess you've got to look at [our lack of experience], but it's still no excuse for some of the performances we have put out there."   

Southland's season - in regard to a possible semifinal spot - is hanging by a thread and that thread could be cut over the next week.

Four wins are normally the magic mark for a semifinal spot and with just six games left for Southland, those hopes are fading fast.

The reality is the semifinals are an afterthought right now, the quest is just to find a good performance. In particular a good second half performance.



 - Stuff

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