Battle of Saddle dream final

The wrap

So it’s all done and dusted and we have a final made in heaven, a marketer’s dream — the Battle of the Saddle. The Eels were far too strong for an under-strength Varsity side and beat it by 26 points. The GI Spannerheads out at their beloved Toolbox were just as dominant when they put away Kaik by the same margin to put themselves within grasp of their first title in 43 years. I was at that final as a fresh-faced 18-year-old when GI whipped the Magpies 10-0 to win the banner.

It promises to be a local derby for the ages at the Glasshouse starting at 3pm tomorrow. Parking is free, it’s a gold coin to get in and the bars in the North Stand are open so no excuses — get yourselves along.

GI has not been well served by Otago selections as Dylan Nel, Whisky Arscott, Ray Nu’u and Michael Manson are in the team taking on Canterbury as I write this. Now I could blame the CRC, Otago rugby, Tom Donnelly or the referees, the linesmen and the ball boys. But all I would say is I’ve talked to many GI supporters who are feeling hard done by. Otago rugby (all of us) needs to keep them in the fold and if we continually kick them in the teeth we lose them as supporters. Otago has only a few supporters now if crowd numbers are anything to go by! So I plead with the heavies at Otago that as long as everyone comes through unscathed in the Canterbury game, release a couple of the GI boys to play tomorrow.

I’m predicting a 4K crowd tomorrow at the Glasshouse. The Eels always turn up with 1000 one-eyed, six-toed supporters and the Spannerheads are bringing in a dozen busloads of tradesmen and panelbeaters. The Eels have been in eight of the past 10 finals so lads give GI a turn. If you can’t make the game for some major reason the ODT is live-streaming both games on The Prem 2 final between Kaik and Dunedin starts at 1pm and the big game at 3pm.

Down on the farm

Congrats to Kurow (which I tipped early) which beat Valley to win its first final in 39 years — great work, lads. I hope Jacko has given you the gate take? The clash of the titans between the two unbeaten teams from South and Central, Clutha Valley and the Cromwell Goats, is on at Clydevale tomorrow so will be well worth a look, kicking off at 2.45 pm. The Goats haven’t played for three weeks and have a truckload of injuries while CV has been partying since last Saturday afternoon after it put away the Market Gardeners from Outram to win the banner in the South. So picking a winner is tough. Big congrats to CV for not choking in its centennial year and winning the banner.

Form XV

I have been running a form XV on our Rugby Chat show and have now picked the following 15 as the best on show in club rugby this year.

1. Reita Tofaeono (S), 2. Ricky Jackson (V), 3. Tristan Fuli (AU), 4. Fabian Holland (D), 5. Woody Kirkwood (GI), 6. Nick Henderson (T), 7. Slade McDowell (K), 8. Christian Lio Willie (K), 9. James Arscott (GI), 10. Cameron Millar (T), 11. Tom Rance (V), 12. Ray Nu’u (GI), 13. Sala Halaleva (H), 14. Michael Manson (GI), 15. Ben McCarthy (AU).

Most positions, in my mind, were easy to pick but not all. Jackson picked himself at hooker, but the props were tough as there were a few candidates. A couple of unlucky locks in Don Lolo and Ben Morris, from Taieri. In the loose, Dylan Nel, from GI, and Leroy Ferguson, from Taieri, were right up there. Varsity halfback McLea went close. The rest of the backs picked themselves. So congrats to those picked and the consistency they showed.

Now that’s a career!

There must be something in the water at Zingari. Perhaps Jimmy Hanna (Speight’s and Zingers man) has re-piped it from the brewery? We had Chris Bell playing nearly 280 games and now Jim Henderson, who has been the Zingers ball boy for 11 seasons and 180-odd games, is considering giving it away as he doesn’t want to become known as a “ball man”! Jim has watched a few average performances in that time. His father, Grant (Stuntman), assures me he won’t be lost to the team as he is up for promotion to water runner. Jim, good on ya mate.

The match committee is on Xanax

The match committee is taking stress leave this week as all the clubs have been firing in “regrades” in their millions — trying to get players into other teams as other comps are concluding. It’s the same every year and they can’t keep everybody happy. Just to cap it off , a couple of weeks ago the Sharks had a couple of Prem players stroll out with one from another club to play in a senior game — really! They held up their hands and pleaded ‘‘mea culpa’’ on the Sunday and said the game should be awarded to Eastern and apologised. Eastern then came out and said perhaps it wasn’t squeaky clean either, so the points stood. The CRC will at the end of the season sit down and look at all the regrade rules and work out how to simplify them and get the match committee off the Xanax!

The survey

The much talked about survey on how our club season should be structured across all grades has been sent to all clubs in the metropolitan area. The CRC is asking all players, coaches, managers, physios and club committees to fill out the form and send it back in to the CRC. Don’t whinge about what is right and wrong. Tell us by filling in the survey so that informed decisions can be made on club comp structures. Vote with your hands!

The picking comps

The picking comps involving club life members and yours truly conclude this weekend. In the South and Central comp we can’t split Arrowtown and Wakatipu which were both perfect against me. Finchy, from Speight’s, and I will be in touch to arrange a function for all your life members in the near future. In town, Varsity is well clear and, barring a minor miracle from Taieri, in the form of Bob Cunningham this weekend, it will win the shout for all the life members of Varsity. We will be in touch.

This weekend

Destroyed Kerri Spence last weekend and on to Bob Cunningham, from the Eels, so I finish on an absolute high. In the Prem 2 final, Kaikorai takes on Dunedin at 1pm at the stadium. The town’s new Super Coach, Crawfie, has wiped the floor with all teams in the grade this year and, apart from one blip, the team has careered its way through the comp. It is a hotter favourite than Phar Lap and really they only has to turn up to pick up the trophy. But you guessed. I can’t pick Kaik so I’ll take the underdog Sharks to win 25-16 but this game only goes one way.

In the big one, GI — even with the big four out — in my eyes is still favourite. The team will be in a frenzy by tomorrow and, if it can match the Eels up front, is a right royal show. The Eels have the big-match experience (eight out of the past 10 finals) and a Rolls Royce pack and a 93% goalkicker in Cam Millar so shouldn’t lose, right? I’m taking the GI Spannerheads just. Isaak Te Hiwi is a pretty good goalkicker in his own right, its backs are talented, the middle row is experienced and it has talented loosies. Plus it’s been 43 years — it is bloody due! GI wins 27-23. But I’ve been wrong before!

Up against Geoff McPhee from the Otago Country Board, who has no chance because have I told you I’m good in the Country? Clutha Valley is at home and is unbeaten all year and surely the party finished midweek? The Goats have been off for three weeks and are hampered by injury. CV wins 24-15.

 - The dreaded report card will appear, appropriately, on Friday, August 13.

Add a Comment


Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter