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The start of round two in the Southern Region competition shapes as a belter.
The split in the draw pits the odd teams against the even teams with two top-four battles to whet the appetite.
Clutha Valley hosts West Taieri at Clydevale with two trophies on the line.
Valley was unbeaten in round one which included a win at Outram over the Pigs — their first loss since joining the competition.
Plenty of these players were on show in Alexandra for the victorious Southern teams and are match-hardened.
It is up to the other players who had the week off to rise to the challenge again. This may well be the first time West Taieri has not gone into a match as favourite since the side entered the Southern mix.
Third-placed Clutha hosts fourth-placed Heriot in Balclutha where a physical and intense battle is predicted.
Clutha snuck ahead of Heriot in the final week of round one as Heriot had the bye. This has made Clutha’s job potentially harder with the opposition the side is drawn against, but a win for the Steamers at home will further cement a top-four spot.
Heriot has been in top form and will be confident of taking the points back to Death Valley.
Fifth-placed Crescent hosts sixth-placed Owaka at the Colliery in Kaitangata.
Crescent needs to start accumulating points to keep in touch with the top four as a gap is emerging.
Owaka just needs to keep winning to keep its slim finals chances alive.
The two teams drew at Swamp Hen Park earlier in the season.
The Stables in Clinton play host to the bottom-of-the-table clash between Clinton and Roxburgh.
Clinton will have cursed the Queen’s Birthday break as it has finally hit some strong form, dispatching Toko with a huge effort by the forward pack the previous week. This win was Clinton’s second after it beat Roxburgh in Central Otago a few weeks prior.
Roxburgh is without a win to date and with the ninth-placed team dropping out after the second round, a win in this match is a must.
- Francis Parker