Big day ahead at Gore Showgrounds

Fans watch an Otago vs Southland NPC clash at the Gore Showgrounds. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Fans watch an Otago vs Southland NPC clash at the Gore Showgrounds. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A club rugby extravaganza is scheduled for the Gore Showgrounds tomorrow, with eight senior teams in action throughout the afternoon, including the round three premier game between the Eastern Northern Barbarians and Star.

Barbarians coach Bretton Taylor was happy to get the maximum five competition points last week at Woodlands, but knew there was plenty of room for improvement.

The Barbarians led 26-0 early in the second half, but were disappointed to let the final score get as close as 26-24.

Barbarians fullback Ben McCarthy was man of the match last week after some elusive ball-running. McCarthy will be well known to Otago rugby followers for his deeds with the Southern club in Dunedin.

The Oamaru lad can play every position in the backline, but has settled in at fullback for the Barbarians in what has turned out to be a clean swap with Levi Emery, who has shifted back from the Gore club to Southern.

Taylor said Troy McIvor and Morgan Mitchell had strengthened the Barbarians front row this year.

"Morgy is huge for us. He is showing his class as an all-round footballer — he tackles, runs and scrums well."

Stags prop Mitchell will be packing down against his former club tomorrow.

Star have also made an addition to their front row this year in Jack Sexton.

The Canterbury prop came down to join the Stags squad last year, and has stuck around for another campaign.

Star will take confidence into this game after their second victory in a row when they beat Blues 48-7 last weekend.

Blues will host the Pirates Old Boys Hawks at Balmoral Drive.

The task for Blues this season in their 150th year got much harder after they lost their best loose forward, Billy Andrew, to a broken leg last week.

The injury to Andrew leaves a heavy workload on robust openside Nichol Gray.

The Hawks have an in-form loose trio of Dusty Coveney, Jakob Harrex and former Stag openside Matt James, who scored two tries in last week’s 45-7 win over Marist.

Marist have home advantage against the strong Woodlands side.