Semifinal contenders become clearer in fourth week

Defending champions West Taieri pictured here celebrating their success in 2023. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Defending champions West Taieri pictured here celebrating their success in 2023. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Southern Region season heads into its fourth week and already four teams are considered semifinal contenders.

Two of them clash at Clydevale this weekend as Clutha Valley host West Taieri with the Holmes Milk Can on the line.

Defending champions West Taieri coming off the bye will be rested and raring to go.

West Taieri’s forward pack has again been a pillar of strength, with Otago Country prop Ethan Hippolite leading the charge.

Clutha Valley had strong wins in their opening two fixtures before losing in a close battle against Crescent last weekend.

Valley have started strongly in all of their games, but their bench has twice been the difference-maker. The only change last weekend was that star impact player Josh Clark was missing.

Crescent top the table after three outstanding results.

Depth is a key issue for most Southern Region clubs, but Crescent boast upwards of 60 players between their two sides.

Crescent’s forward pack is the envy of the competition with the likes of ex-Highlander Lee Allan at their disposal every week.

Crescent head to West Otago to take on Heriot, who are yet to register a win this season and last week lost the West Otago Shield to Lawrence for the first time since 2016.

Lawrence are third on the table after three weeks. They have had a favourable draw to start the season but have managed to build some nice momentum heading into what will be an acid test for them.

Lawrence host Clutha, who are coming off a strong win over Owaka last weekend. If Lawrence are to be considered semifinal contenders, they need to impress tomorrow.

Swamp Hen Park is the venue for a bottom-four clash between Owaka and Toko.

Owaka have had one win from three but are coming off a heavy loss to Clutha. Toko are yet to register a win and languish at the bottom of the table.

The Dean Miller Memorial and Reg Phillips Memorial trophies are on the line. Owaka prop Daniel Miller will be contesting his father’s memorial trophy for the first time since shifting clubs in the summer.

 - By Francis Parker