Otago Daily Times

Stags seek­ing to break five­year away game hoodoo and make play­offs

- ADRIAN SECONI Sports · College Sports · Rugby · Invercargill · Pukekohe · ITM Cup · Championship · Greg Dyer · Kieran Lee

SOUTH­LAND saved its play­off prospects with a sur­prise win against Otago in In­ver­cargill on Fri­day night.

Now it has to con­vert that op­por­tu­nity by fol­low­ing it with a rare win on the road.

The Stags will play Coun­ties Manukau in Pukekohe to­mor­row night and will be chas­ing their first Mitre 10 Cup

Rory van Vugt, Amanaki Ni­cole, Isaac Te Ta­maki, Ray Nu’u, Te­vita Latu, Scott Eade, Lo­gan Crow­ley, Tony Lam­born (cap­tain), Matthew James, Charles Alaimalo, Mike Mckee, Manaaki Selby­Rickit, Si­ate Toko­lahi, Greg Pleas­ants­Tate, Ethan De Groot. Re­serves: Tale­maitoga Tua­p­ati, Joseph Walsh, Chris Apoua, Ray Tatafu, Ja­cob Cogh­lan, Liam How­ley, Greg Dyer, Jaye Thomp­son.

win away from home in five years.

At stake is po­ten­tially a place

in the Cham­pi­onship play­offs.

South­land (16 points) will have to sweat on the re­sult be­tween North­land (19 points) and Waikato on Satur­day. But with a win against the Steel­ers it would leapfrog North­land into fourth place.

Stags coach Dale MacLeod has made just one change to the side which up­set Otago 32­15.

Out­side back Amanaki Ni­cole re­turns from in­jury and will start on the right wing, while Kieran Lee will drop out of the game day squad.

Ni­cole was side­lined with a chest in­jury in mid­Oc­to­ber and then a calf nig­gle held up his come­back for an­other two weeks.

‘‘He is back on deck now, which is good,’’ MacLeod said.

‘‘Be­fore he was in­jured he was in the start­ing group and per­formed very well.

‘‘Just be­cause you get in­jured doesn’t mean you lose your [start­ing] spot, so he is go­ing to slot straight back in.’’

It is pretty close to the strong­est line­up MacLeod could have named.

The side has plenty of pos­i­tives to re­flect on this week as well.

‘‘It was pretty spe­cial for the group [to beat Otago]. There was a hell of a lot went into get­ting that per­for­mance.’’

‘‘So we had a light week to start, but the boys are show­ing real bounce in their step again.

‘‘And we are in a re­ally good space head­ing into that game.

‘‘It will be mas­sive for us to get a fourth win this sea­son. But our fo­cus is win­ning our first away game in five years.

‘‘It was great to get a win the other day but, if we are real hon­est, we did not do our­selves jus­tice in our last away game against Manawatu [a 24­12 loss].’’

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