Spot in playoffs at stake

Alhambra-Union openside flanker Arnold Dinh collects the ball while under pressure from Harbour...
Alhambra-Union openside flanker Arnold Dinh collects the ball while under pressure from Harbour No 8 Solomon Pole during a Dunedin premier game at the North Ground on Saturday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The battle for the final playoff spot in Dunedin premier rugby has come down to two teams.

University can claim the sixth and last spot with a win over Harbour at Watson Park tomorrow, while Green Island will need to beat Zingari-Richmond at Montecillo Park and hope University falls short.

Form suggests Harbour will have the edge against University (13 points).

The Hawks (20 points) have won four of their past five games and are safely through. But there should be ample motivation to produce a top performance.

They can leapfrog Dunedin (25 points) into second place with a bonus-point win over University.

All Dunedin needs to do to seal off second place, though, is pick up a bonus point against Southern at Kettle Park.

Southern (19 points) can potentially climb to third and nab a home venue for the playoffs with a win. The Magpies will need other results to go their way, though.

Kaikorai (19 points) can also lift its odds in the playoffs by dispatching Alhambra-Union at Bishopscourt.

The Demons can scale as high as third if things go their way.

Taieri has a bye and has already secured top spot. The Eels have also earned the luxury of a second chance.

A quick refresher on the playoffs format is probably in order here. The top six has the No 1 side hosting the No 6 team, 2 v 5 and 3 v 4. The three winners and the top-ranked loser progress to the semifinals.

Two years ago, Taieri lost its playoff game but progressed courtesy of being the top-ranked loser and went on to win the banner. Second chances count, so the jostling for the final rankings is important.

But the teams with the most riding on this weekend are Green Island and University.

Green Island (11 points) made the final last season and was perhaps an unlucky loser. The Grizzlies scored three tries, but first five Cameron Millar kicked six penalties to help Taieri win 21-17.

The Grizzlies started well, but their form has fallen away.

A lot of that has to do with some key personnel being unavailable during the Highlanders under-20 campaign. Talented trio Finn Hurley, Jake Te Hiwi and Oliver Haig have gone on to make the New Zealand under-20 team.

Injuries have not helped. Otago halfback James Arscott has been sidelined with a fractured bone in his hand.

Zingari-Richmond (five points) and Alhambra-Union (seven points) are out of contention.

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