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Otago Country goes into its final Hawke Cup qualifier this weekend in Alexandra against joint leader South Canterbury needing maximum points to move ahead of it, as well as North Otago. If that happens, Otago Country will win the zone and qualify to challenge for the cup, held by Bay of Plenty.
A first innings win over Southland in Country's first match got the season off to a positive start but an outright loss to North Otago a month later put it on the back foot, somewhat. However, an excellent display against Mid Canterbury in Ashburton a fortnight ago, ensured Otago Country would go into its final match this weekend with a chance of qualifying.
The team to face South Canterbury has a familiarity to it. Captain Eric Standfield hopes to continue his positive start as skipper of the side while openers Jono Homer and Scott Paulin will again play a key role. As far as the bowlers go, it has been somewhat of a mixed bag since the departure of Brendan Domigan at the conclusion of last season but Standfield and current Otago Volt Sam Blakely have done a commendable job.
South Canterbury also needs an outright win to ensure it moves ahead of North Otago and cements a spot in the challenge. Failing that, it will have to rely on a Southland loss to qualify.
Otago Country team
Scott Paulin, Jono Homer, Ross Anderson, Jared Andrew, Bradley Frost, Cameron Rutherford, Fraser Wilson, Eric Standfield (c), Liam Crowley, Sam Blakely, Andrew Hubber, Sean Windle. Coach: Andy Sainsbury.