Rugby: Taranaki edge Southland for first win

Isaia Tuifua scored one of Taranaki's two tries as his side edged Southland 15-14 in Invercargill tonight.
Isaia Tuifua scored one of Taranaki's two tries as his side edged Southland 15-14 in Invercargill tonight.

Southland 14
Taranaki 15

Taranaki have won the battle of the basement, earning their first victory of the season after edging Southland 15-14 in Invercargill tonight.

It was hardly a marquee match-up to suit the Saturday night timeslot, with the two sides arguably the most disappointing in the ITM Cup to date.

Both were winless heading into the encounter - Southland were yet to cross the tryline after 160 minutes of rugby - but Taranaki rode a strong first half to victory.

The victors are still languishing at the bottom of the Premiership, while Southland's bonus point at least lifted them above Manawatu, and both teams could remain near the foot of their respective ladders based on tonight's evidence.

The game didn't raise to great heights in a subdued opening half, as Taranaki scored the only try.

After the TMO denied Taranaki when Blake Thompson's obstruction negated Shane Cleaver's crossing, Andre Taylor and Scott Eade exchanged penalties before the half's pivotal moment.

With a ruck near the Southland 22 offering a prime attacking opportunity, Rhys Marshall and Jarrad Hoeata showed some quick hands to feed the backs before Kurt Baker drew in the man and passed for Jackson Omond to cross in the right corner.

Taranaki were good value for their 8-3 halftime lead, enjoying much more possession and territory than Southland and using that advantage to spend four times as long in the opposition 22.

It was a dour half, all in all, but the game sparked to life in the opening five minutes of the second spell - courtesy of two errors.

The first was from Robbie Robinson, whose drop allowed Isaia Tuifua to scoop up possession and race away untouched, before Tim Cornforth took advantage of confusion from the kick off to score Southland's first try of the season.

A penalty from Marty McKenzie reduced the deficit to 15-14, but the substitute then missed another chance from near the left sideline to consign his side to defeat.

Southland 14 (T. Cornforth try; S. Eade 2 pens, McKenzie pen)
Taranaki 15 (J. Ormond, I. Tuifua tries; A. Taylor pen, con)
HT: 8-3

- APNZ

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