Sportal.co.nz 31.Aug.2013Getty Images
While Southland mounted an attempt to steal a victory in the last quarter, Taranaki had reward for banking their opportunities earlier in the game and their defence, and Southland's desperation, resulted in errors to deny the home team their chance.
Taranaki second five-eighths Isaia Tuifua constantly tested the home defences with some strong running and scored the try that spelled the difference in the end.
Hooker Rhys Marshall was a consistent contributor in the tight-loose exchanges and a handful with the ball in hand. Flanker Kane Barrett ran with effect.
Southland did not help themselves by too often going high in the tackle allowing Taranaki to make good ground and their ball control several times denied them valuable opportunities.
It wasn't the greatest advertisement of quality rugby. That was demonstrated at the start of the second half when the teams exchanged tries as the result of basic mistakes by the other.
The first, came when Southland fullback Robbie Robinson attempted to run out of his 22m area only to lose the ball and Tuifua was onto it in a flash to run in for a soft try.
But from the re-start, Taranaki halfback Chris Smylie and replacement for wing Jackson Ormond, Seta Tamanivalu each went for the ball, collided and bobbled the ball for following Southland wing Tim Cornforth to secure a try, Southland's first of the competition, of similar ease.
Southland had a chance to claim a win when McKenzie had a penalty goal attempt from wide out on the left, but the kick passed to the right of the posts.
However, there were still more opportunities for the home team but they were unable to take them and it was typical of their lack of clarity that the final act of the game saw the ball spill from centre Bryan Milne's hand allowing Taranaki to clear the ball for touch.
Taranaki enjoyed a dominance of territory and possession in the first quarter and had one try scoring chance over-ruled due to obstruction of a Southland defender.
By the 28 minutes centre Andre Taylor secured his side's first points with a penalty goal at his third attempt. However, Scott Eade replied almost straight away with his second attempt.
The try came from a scrum which saw a well-worked passing exchange which opened room for fullback Kurt Baker to race into the line and give Ormond a run at the line to score in the corner.
Southland 14 (Tim Cornforth try; Scott Eade 2 pen; Marty McKenzie pen) Taranaki 15 (Jackson Ormond, Isaia Tuifua tries; Andre Taylor con, pen ). HT: 3-8