Mitre 10 Cup: North Harbour extend Southland's losing streak

North Harbour have recorded their first win of the Mitre 10 Cup season, with a 33-12 romp over Southland in Invercargill.

Southland first-five Marty McKenize scored the first points of the afternoon, making the initial break, before getting the ball back and scoring under the posts to put the hosts ahead 7-0. 

As Harbour got more of the ball, they worked their way up the field and after a couple of penalties, they scored their first try, halfback Bryn Hall throwing a nice offload to set up James Little. 

Both sides took turns at attacking the line, but neither could break the other's defence. Southland's Scott Eade missed a penalty kick with a minute left in the first half, leaving the score locked at 7-7 at the break. 

The visitors broke through at the start of the second half, Asaeli Tikoirotuma scoring. 

A length-of-the-field try swung the momentum for the visitors, when Tomas Aoake plucked an intercept pass 97 metres from the try-line. He found winger Matt Duffie, who took on two Southland defenders, before finding his inside man.

Halfback Bryn Hall eventually crossed for the try to take the lead to 19-7. 

But the Stags didn't give up, even with 14 men on the field, after prop Joe Walsh was sent to the bin for collapsing a maul.

Eade scored a much-needed try for the hosts, as they clawed their way back into the game, down seven with just over 20 minutes to go. 

Staunch defence kept the Stags from scoring, as the Harbour forwards stood up and dominated at scrum-time. 

Fullback Shaun Stevenson sparked the matchwinning try, running 60 metres untouched through the Stags defence, and from there, the visitors threw the ball left and substitute Harrison Groundwater scored. 

Matt Duffie sealed the win with nine minutes to go, pouncing on a Groundwater kick to score his first of the game. 

That's where it ended at Rugby Park, as North Harbour claimed their first win of the 2019 season, inflicting further pain on the Stags, as they continued to search for their first win since October 2016. 

Harbour will host Bay of Plenty next Sunday and Southland will play a bottom-of-the-table clash with premiership tailenders Canterbury on Saturday. 

Newshub.

 

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