It is starting to get near crunch time for Heartland teams, none more so than for North Otago which takes on Thames Valley in Te Aroha today.
Southland is trying hard but it is going to take a while to turn things around, the union’s boss says.
Otago Country regained the Tri-series Trophy and will hold it until next season after a nail-biting 33-29 win over Canterbury Country in Christchurch on Saturday.
North Otago sacrificed a 17-14 halftime lead through loose defence to lose 27-24 to Horowhenua-Kapiti in Oamaru on Saturday.
Southland leaked three tries in the final 14 minutes against Counties to lose its final outing at the national under-19 tournament in Taupo on Saturday.
Otago Country heads to Christchurch this weekend to play Canterbury Country for the tri-series trophy.
North Otago and Horowhenua-Kapiti will have ample motivation when the two sides meet at Whitestone Stadium this afternoon.
North Otago could not string together a third close win in a row, going down 22-18 to King Country in Taumarunui.
Southland has advanced to the Michael Jones Trophy semifinals at the national under-19 rugby tournament in Taupo.
Much as the Southland Stags did 24 hours earlier at Rugby Park, Southland B showed promise yesterday, but ultimately a lack of accuracy was its downfall in a 41-21 loss to Canterbury B.
Two of the three unbeaten teams in Heartland rugby will meet this afternoon when King Country hosts North Otago in Taumarunui.
Southland may well head into the national under-19 rugby tournament without key player Ethan de Groot, as a possible Stags call-up looms.
North Otago winger Simon Lillicama scored in the final moments of the game to help snatch a dramatic 34-33 win against Mid Canterbury at the Ashburton Showgrounds on Saturday.