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It is tight in the Hawke Cup southern zone, the final matches of which are set to be played over the next two weekends.
Zone 4, as it is known, has three associations — Otago Country, Mid Canterbury and Southland — all with 16 points at the top of the table. But South Canterbury and North Otago are not out of the running, even though they trail the leading three teams.
There are a couple of key matches to be played this weekend.
Mid Canterbury travels for its two-day game against North Otago, while Otago Country lines up against South Canterbury, in Alexandra.
South Canterbury is only four points behind the top four teams.
The zone 4 challenge has been set down against the holder, Canterbury Country, on the second week in February. That is if Canterbury Country retains the cup in its first challenge next weekend.
The final zone 4 game will have Southland hosting North Otago in Invercargill on January 30-31.
North Otago has made some changes to its side to take on Mid Canterbury. A loss by North Otago or even a failure to take any points could strike a mortal blow against the hopes of the home side going any further.
Otago Volts batsman Llew Johnson is back in the North Otago team, having been left out of the Otago side to take on Wellington in the capital tomorrow.
Otago Country had an encouraging first innings win over Southland in Alexandra last weekend, so is hoping to continue with the winning form this weekend.