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St Clair and the Otago Bombers are the headline acts ahead of this weekend’s metropolitan Senior A semifinals.
Both sides appear on a collision course after standing out at the business end of round robin, but the Otago B52s and Chisholm Links may have the final say whether things go to script.
After this week’s weather, the combination of good ball-striking from the tee and a sharp, short game will be an advantage at the host Taieri Lakes course, where shorter hitters may find the going tough with plenty of pressure applied to make pars.
Bombers v Chisholm Links
The front-running Bombers found their way to the top after a staggered start to the season due to rescheduled games but, full of representatives, again looks the side to beat as it faces a strengthened Chisholm Links team.
Unlike other years, it has been a collective effort with only Jason Hughes going through unbeaten despite having only played a handful of games, while Ben Patston is the best of the rest, dropping one game.
Chisholm has been the benefactor of the arrival of Southland No1 Matt Tautari and Otago incumbent Phil Bungard, who both helped Island Park to its first title last year.
Despite the strong start to the season, Chisholm fell into fourth place and will need the rest of the side to be at their best to earn the minimum 3.5 games to topple the Bombers.
Key match-up: Tyrone Ratahi v Matt Tautari (No6). The winner of this match will set the tone.
Should Tautari draw first blood, it could set the Links up to earn at least three games on paper. An early win to Ratahi will be a huge setback for the Links.
St Clair v B52s
St Clair takes on a dangerous B52s side that has been led by the impressive duo of Tom Lee and Matt Weir. Lee is unbeaten but in a cruel twist of fate is unavailable for the match.
Veteran Andrew Hobbs is another who got away from Island Park, and he adds solidarity and experience.
Much like Chisholms, the B52s’ hopes hinge on their strong players getting the job done, with others needing to play to their best.
St Clair has relished consistent selection and there is confidence within the players that they have the arsenal to go all the way.
Led by the heavy-hitting Jacob Bellamy, who has found a home at No6, and anchored by veteran Tony Giles, the Saints look well balanced and a confident young side ready to rumble.
Key match-up: Ryan Bellamy v Andrew Hobbs (No3). The B52s look to be up against it but this is one match that can swing some momentum their way with the experienced Hobbs against the free-swinging Bellamy.
The B52s need this one.
- By Michael Minty