Southern defeated Kaikorai 33-7 on Thursday evening at Bathgate Park. It was a good opening display with the team showing good early combinations in attack and impressive defence. Kaikorai attempted to move the ball regularly but met a brick wall throughout the match. The Magpies took nearly every opportunity offered in attack and gave a number of debutants a great start to their Premier careers. The score was 16-7 at halftime.
Mika Mafi started the season as he left off in 2015 with an impressive display from No 8. The benefit of now being in the Otago system has allowed him to increase his fitness and his non stop work rate contributed to him scoring 3 tries, with powerful bursts close to the line. The forwards worked well as a pack and constantly made the advantage line with hard running. Impressive young prop Shaun Stoddart showed his ability – celebrating his recent selection in the NZ U20 team.
In the backs released Highlander Tai Walden played in an unaccustomed position for him of 1st five, but he directed play well and defended aggressively. Debut midfield backs Sean Clementson, Hemaua Samasoni, and pacey wing Piliu Tavake all showed impressive form and look quality players. Jono Hayes impressed from fullback with his positional play and goal kicked well.
In other matches University A made a strong beginning to its title defence, crushing Alhambra-Union 63-7 at the North Ground. Pirates trailed Green Island 26-16 at the break but rallied to win 27-26. Dunedin scored a converted try at the death to beat Harbour 36-34, Taieri dispatched Zingari-Richmond 55-24.