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The battle for the Citizens Shield is warming up with the penultimate round of the playoff qualifying this weekend.
Kurow is the favoured one with the Waitaki Valley club having won all three of its games, Maheno 59-28, Old Boys 27-19, and Valley 36-31.
Kurow will meet Excelsior and Athletic Marist, two of the teams battling in the lower levels. It has an advantage as both games will be home games for Kurow.
The North Otago Rugby football Union has instigated a new system for the semifinals and finals.
In the first round of the playoffs, the No1 and No2 ranked teams will play off, and the third and fourth will play off.
The semifinals will see the loser of one v two play the winner of three and four. The winner of one v two will get direct entry to the July 24 final.
This week Kurow (29) will play Excelsior (6), Old Boys (31) will face Athletic Marist (14), and what will be the round of the day Maheno (21) hosts Valley (33).
In the final round Excelsior plays Maheno, Kurow, at home, meets Athletic Marist and at Weston Park, Valley will host Old Boys.
The Ranfurly Shield challenge will take place on Wednesday, June 30, against Hawke’s Bay in Napier.
The following Saturday there will be no club rugby in North Otago and the Citizens Shield will be decided on playoffs (July 10), semifinals (July 17) and final (July 24).
For Heartland rugby North Otago’s programme begins when it meets South Canterbury in Oamaru on August 21 and on the next seven Saturdays, North Otago will play Buller (Westport), Wanganui (Wanganui), King Country (Oamaru), East Coast (Oamaru), Horowhenua-Kapiti (Wellington), Mid Canterbury (Ashburton) and Poverty Bay (Oamaru).
- Terry O'Neill