Stags impressive in season opener

Published date11 August 2022
Publication titleSouthland Express
A big crowd is expected at Invercargill’s Rugby Park after the Stags impressed in their season opener against Tasman in Blenheim on Sunday

The Stags had an unsettled build-up to that match due to the rough weather causing extensive travel disruptions. The team still managed to put in a focused and gutsy performance that deserved more than the one bonus point they took from their 27-20 loss to last year’s finalists.

Stags lock Ben Morris seriously injured his knee in the warm-up before the game so Joe Robins took his place in the starting line-up and impressed with his work rate in defence and attack.

First five-eighth Marty Banks kicked an early goal before Tasman hit straight back with a converted try. Stags centre Isaac Te Tamaki scored a converted try after 10 minutes.

Tasman dominated the next 30 minutes to lead 27-10 at halftime.

Stags flanker Grayson Knapp scored seven minutes after the resumption and Banks converted. Another Stags penalty goal closed the gap to seven points with 25 minutes remaining.

The Stags held the upper hand for the rest of the match but their minor mistakes prevented them from taking the game into extra time.

The Southland camp was disappointed to lose the Clarke Dermody Cup match but coach Dale McLeod and Stags fans would have been pleased to see the players’ efforts were of equal standard to the high levels the team produced in their past couple of seasons.

This year, the Stags are without their 2021 captain Tony Lamborn, who was voted player of the year by his team-mates for his deeds at No 8. Outside back Josh Moorby is with Northland this year after three good years in the south.

The Stags still have most of last year’s...

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