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Eastern has again highlighted its strength in Southland rugby circles with a commanding showing in a sub-union tournament on Saturday.
There has been a fear Southland sub-union rugby may be in jeopardy in terms of the Eastern, Northern Central and Western sub-unions getting the opportunity to square off against each other in the future.
In previous years, officials have tried different ways to squeeze sub-union action into the Southland rugby calendar but it has struggled to generate interest with the players.
On Saturday, all four teams converged on Centre Bush, in central Southland, in a tournament-like setting where all teams played two games each.
First up, Eastern beat Northern and Western beat Central in games played over 20-minute halves.
Eastern and Western then squared off in the final and Eastern delivered a crushing 35-0 victory.
Eastern clubs made up three of the division 1 club competition semifinalists this year and the performance on Saturday cemented Eastern’s position as the powerhouse of Southland Country rugby.
Eastern coach Jason Bishop liked Saturday’s new concept.
"I personally think it was great. Everyone was in the same place and it created a great atmosphere," he said.
"It showed [Southland] Country rugby is strong; we just need to realise that. We have got the players. Hopefully, Rugby Southland take a look at those players."
In terms of his own team’s performance, Bishop was thrilled.
"We had a very short window for preparation but the way we came out hissing in that first game, and the speed which we played at, was impressive."
Captain and openside flanker Lachie McCall led from the front, while Bishop suggested first five-eighth Bram Fodie had a promising future, given what he delivered in the sub-union fixtures.
A Southland Country team would now be selected to prepare for annual games against Southland Town, Otago Country and Canterbury Country.
- Logan Savory