Town beat Country 34-27 at Rugby Park tonight as players looked to push their claims for a place in this year’s Southland Stags squad.
Town scored three first half tries to lead 24-14 at the break.
As the first half began to break up and Town started to get quick ball, the pace of Bryan Milne, Warrick Lynn and Afi Peteru was too much for Country.
Hooker Dillan Halaholo was aggressive with ball in hand, the former New Zealand under-17 player also threw confidently to a lineout which included Stags locks Michael Fatialofa and Craig Smith.
Country got some set piece revenge at scrumtime with a pack anchored by Morgan Mitchell, who also showed good leg drive to score a first half try.
Lock Jack Jones got through plenty of work before coming off in the second half with a shoulder injury, while centre Ryan Evans produced a couple of eye-catching breaks but lacked support.
Richard Apanui still has that prodigious punt that longtime followers of the Stags will remember.
It was a struggle for both teams to put any sort of pattern on the second half after the benches were brought into the game.
The plucky Country side increased their intensity after halftime and coped better with the slower nature of the game.
Replacement hooker Mike Donald barrelled over on the hour and Napoliani Serulele’s fourth penalty of the game got Country to within two points before Lynn and Tamou sealed the game for Town with their second tries.
TOWN 34 (Taina Tamou 2, Afi Peteru, Dillan Halaholo, Warrick Lynn 2 tries; Richard Apanui 2 con
COUNTRY 27 (Morgan Mitchell, Mike Donald, Willie McKee tries; Napoliani Serulele 4 pen
THREE PLAYERS TO STANDOUT
Dillan Halaholo – the Town hooker played well in a position which is under the spotlight after the season ending injury to David Hall.
Morgan Mitchell – the Country tighthead continued his progression towards a Stags jersey.
Bryan Milne – the ageless midfielder had enough pace to create holes and then the vision to put players away.
– The Southland Times