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Donald denies Southland

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Sportal.co.nz     15 Jul 2011     Getty Images

The All Blacks' reject kicked six from six and showed all his experience as Waikato squeezed the life out of the Stags.

Waikato's victory was built on a dominant scrum and aggressive defence which kept Southland tryless.

Southland played much better in the second spell but Waikato was the more solid all-round side and would have won by more had it taken all its chances.

No.8 Alex Bradley and the front row of Nathan White, Aled de Malmanche and Ben May were prominent.

Southland would have been disappointed but first five-eighths Scott Eade made a promising debut and Elliot Dixon and John Hardie were prominent in the tight-loose.

The match began in damp conditions with a temperature of 8deg and the Waikato scrum asserted early dominance.

It paid off after eight minutes when, from a scrum close to the line, Southland was marched backwards and Donald ran hard at the line and scored by the posts for a try he converted himself.

Waikato continued to put Southland under severe pressure, putting together 20 phases as it battered the line, after which Romana Graham (Waikato) and Josh Bekhuis (Southland) were sinbinned for punching. Donald kicked the ensuing penalty and Waikato led 10-0 after 16 minutes.

Waikato had almost all the territory and possession in the first quarter but Southland got on the board after 23 minutes when newcomer Eade kicked a good penalty from 36 metres.

The testy mood continued when Jason Rutledge (Southland) and May (Waikato) were binned for exchanging punches and Donald kicked the ensuing penalty to restore Waikato's 10-point lead after 25 minutes.

But Southland grabbed back three points when Eade kicked a fine penalty from more than 40 metres and he kicked his third penalty five minutes from the break to make it 13-9.

Waikato would have been disappointed not to have been more than four points ahead considering it had been in charge for all but the last 10 minutes of the first half.

Waikato had had 67 percent territory and 62 percent possession, won the breakdowns 58-26 and spent 10 minutes (to one) inside the Southland 22. But 12 turnovers prevented it fully profiting from its advantage.

Donald kicked his third penalty three minutes into the second spell to extend the lead to 16-9 and five minutes later All Blacks wing Sitiveni Sivivatu, who had taken a knock to the knee, was substituted by Tim Mikkleson.

Southland's plight worsened 12 minutes into the spell when right wing Mark Wells was helped off with an injury to his knee and Donald kicked his fourth penalty to make it 19-9.

Waikato continued to pressurise Southland, and to set up camp in Stags territory with the home team forced to live off scraps.

Southland sparked into life 15 minutes from the end after a sizzling run by replacement back Tim Cornforth but the Waikato defence held firm.

Scorers:

Southland 9 (Scott Eade 3 pen) Waikato 19 (Stephen Donald try, con, 4 pen). HT: 9-13