How good were Boys and Rutledge?

When Jason Rutledge finally hangs up his boots he is going to leave a massive hole in the Stags line up.
Brayden Mitchell is a player on the rise, but he will inevitably find it tough taking over from someone who casts the sort of shadow created by the provincial record holder.
Rutledge has not been at his best for Southland this season. There was a feeling he was being selected on sentiment as much as performance in the early rounds but he was back to his irksome best at the breakdown against Harbour today.
Working in tandem with Tim Boys, the pair were a menace against a Harbour side which paid the price for not getting numbers to the breakdown.
The likely loss of Robbie Robinson to a season-ending foot injury will see Marty McKenzie get his chance at fullback, but with Scott Eade hobbling his way through the last two games, the backline resources are starting to get thin.
I thought Nemia Kenatale looked really good in his starting debut but I was relieved to see Jimmy Cowan come off the bench in the second half because it means that the Rugby Almanack and the New Zealand Rugby Union will now recognise him as a Southland centurion.
If you’re not sure what the confusion was about, have a look at this.
Cowan’s bizarre reverse pass was just that, I can only imagine what he was saying to himself after firing that misdirected bullet.
It put the Stags under pressure for the remainder of the game, but they deserved to take four points away from the North Shore for their work at the breakdown alone.
Cowan can be forgiven a little after creating a try out of nothing when he pickpocketed a Harbout 5m scrum.Tim Cornforth was elusive when given space early in the game, but the Stags need more work out of Kade Poki.
Cardiff Vaega threw a neat cut out pass to set up Tim Boys’ try, which included some good work by Scott McKee to lay on the final pass.The Stags are back from the brink, but it will only be a short stay of execution unless they can beat Northland at Rugby Park on Wednesday.
They will need to be better, but they are getting better every week.


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