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Haven’t we already had finals day at the Greenhouse? Didn’t we get 6500 people along screaming for the Eels or the Spannerheads? Wasn’t that the biggest crowd we will see for rugby outside a test or Highlanders game?
Well, it’s a yes to most of those, but wait, there’s more. Yes there is another finals day at the Greenhouse and it’s on tomorrow. We kick off at 10.30am (that’s early!) with a match between the Carisbrook Bush Pigs and the Lincoln Short-Finned Eels to decide who is the best under-85kg team in the South Island.
The second final (12.30pm) is the championship colts decider. Two teams from Kaik and two teams from Dunedin made the semis, and the two Kaik teams emerged victorious. So the unbeaten Undertakers will take on the Cobras.
Then on to the first of the big dances. The ODT Cup final for the best first XV in Highlanders territory at 2.10 pm features two teams which have been going at it for well over 100 years in Otago Boys’ and Southland Boys’. It promises to be a powerful and gripping contest with drama from start to finish.
If that’s not enough to whet the appetite, we then have the premier colts final kicking off at 3.50pm between Kaik and Dunedin or, in local terms, the Devils and the Mako. This promises to be a no-holds-barred encounter. Kaik has been the best team in the comp and has only lost once this year and the Mako have been the defending champs for the past two years — mouth-watering to say the least.
We encourage you get along to the stadium at some stage tomorrow to see the talent that is starting to emerge out of the Highlanders region — the best will definitely be on show. It’s only a gold-coin donation to get in, parking is free and the bars will be open in the North Stand. All the viewing will be in the North Stand and there is no better spot in New Zealand to watch live games. If you have an excuse, the ODT website will live-stream all the games (odt.co.nz). Spare a thought for the commentator, yours truly, who is going to call at least three of these classic encounters. That’s six hours, so I apologise in advance!
Ainge Shield and players of the year
The Ainge Shield has been decided even before finals weekend. As predicted, Kaik — or as I have been referring to them this year, the MAQs, the Mountain Aqua Golds — claimed it. Kaik made the top four in prems, was runner-up in prem 2s, made the four in seniors, will finish first or second in prem colts and will also finish 1-2 in junior colts. That is an amazing achievement, so it is a winner of the Ainge Shield for the best performing club. That will be presented at the ODT/Speight’s Player of the Year function which will be held appropriately at the Speight’s boardroom on Friday, September 3. We will also present the club player of the year, the women’s player of the year, the Ben Smith medal for most promising player of the year, the top try-scorer and points-scorer in premier rugby as well — it promises to be a great event.
The Dreaded Report Card
Not a great season for AU leading into its 150th next year. The prems finished second-last, while the prem 2s were cellar dwellers along with their seniors. The prem colts were vying for the spoon and the club did not field a junior colts side this year. Its women were mid-table at best so the club is creaking and needs some oil on ageing joints. Still a good supporter base on occasions but certainly a sub-par year. — C-
It promised the earth in its 150th year but delivered not much. From leading the prem comp after four weeks of the Gallaway, it collapsed and finished a dismal third-last. It did win the prem 2s for the second year in succession and is in the prem colts final tomorrow. Two of its junior colts teams made the semis last weekend but were both skittled by Kaik. It had dreams of holding on to the Ainge Shield for a second year but that evaporated with those losses. The seniors were mid-table. Numbers are great and support base OK but the prems rankle! — B-
First final in 43 years. Fell at the last hurdle but a great club result. Prem 2s made the top four and seniors there or thereabouts. A black mark for starting a team in prem colts then dropping to junior colts — bad look! Ended up with two junior colts. Supporters fantastic — just look at the final in the stadium — and numbers are great — B-
Prems made the top six. Added a prem 2 side this year but this was underwhelming as it defaulted quite a few games and didn’t really have the numbers. Seniors were only so-so this year. Colts performed admirably and finished fifth. So an OK season and its supporters are passionate beyond belief if not a tad over the top! — C
What else can I say? Kaikorai has done it all this year and has wrested the “Bert Ainge” away from Dunedin. The club is top two in three grades and its prems were top four. The supporters, whilst being overbearing, are certainly plentiful and they deserve a high mark. — A-
The prems made the top six, the prem 2s were also-rans and it won seniors. The prem colts made the semis but the junior colts were an afterthought. The club is growing its numbers which is great to see after some wilderness years. Supporters numbers seem to be dwindling or is it just me? At least a pass mark is deserved. — C
Another extremely good season for the slippery Eels. They made yet another prem final and added another banner to the burgeoning cabinet. Their prem 2s made the four but the seniors really struggled. Their prem colts made the four but their junior colts were also rans. Their spectators were magnificent if slightly red-necked and occasionally extreme! They fully deserve a good mark . — B-
A terrible year by its lofty standards and you can get hung by your lofty standards! The prems made the top four, the prem 2s were mid-table at best. The prems and junior colts were nowhere to be seen and only their women made the final but lost to Pirates in the last play of the game. Spectators are thinning rapidly so real work to do all round unfortunately. — C-
The prems held their normal spot cuddling the spoon but they eked out a couple of memorable wins. The seniors made the top four from memory but the newly minted junior colts side may have also slept with the spoon. But the important thing is numbers are on the rise. The club’s supporters whilst being long-suffering are a joy to behold as witnessed when “Belly” broke the record of prem games played. A solid mark is deserved. — C
A couple of asides
Dunedin’s best accountant (recently retired and just had a milestone birthday) thought he’d try his hand at being “Paul Bunyan” and chopping down trees. Well, his illusions of forestry grandeur lasted an hour at best. He was last seen slinking off to the couch with a slipped disc and multiple hernias. Stick to the books, mate, It’s far safer!
Is it me or is ref Paul Williams not that good? Yes he has swallowed three or four rule books and can hand out technical penalties with the best of them. But how do you miss four or five blatant forward passes right in front of your eyes? Or maybe I’m too old?
Predictions for tomorrow
Up against “mein host” supremo from the Ale House, Mark Scully, in the final soothsay of the year. He describes himself as the “wisest rugby head” trotting around. That explains his latest photo! Rest assured, I go out with a bang and win the last picking comp of the year — I’ll be paying restrictive odds on the TAB!
In the bantamweight game, the Bush Pigs (13+) have some handy footballers especially in the backs. The Kalahari Bushman’s son, halfback Devon Bell, is an energiser bunny, Kitahara, from Southern, will be some watch and Tom Rance and Ben McCarthy out wide are electric. The summation — too skinny, too fast for the gumboot-wearing Lincoln farmers.
In the junior colts final, do we really care? The Undertakers are unbeaten but were average in the semis so I’m picking the Cobras (12-) to upset but do we really care?
In the ODT Cup final, Otago Boys’ takes on Southland Boys’. It’s one game each so far this year so it should be a tight, tense tussle. Otago Boys (12-) has been the better side this year so on a hard fast track might just have the edge.
In the prem colts final, Kaik is the commanding favourite and really should win in a canter. But I’ve said this before — I’d rather be the go-between in the Lukey and Muldrew divide than pick Kaik. The Mako (12-) are the defending champs and the only team to beat Kaik this year. The Makos just.
Well, that’s it for the year team. It’s had everything, so tell you, what let’s do it all again next year!