Intriguing semifinals in store

Two very intriguing semifinal match-ups will be played tomorrow in the Southern region.

First-placed West Taieri has had the dream beginning to its Southern region journey.

The side was unbeaten in the round robin stages and was rarely troubled for the most part.

It was pushed hard last weekend by Crescent, but found a way to win.

West Taieri will host five-time champion Clutha, which finished fourth in the regular season.

Clutha’s finals knowledge will stand it in good stead for this match, even though it was comprehensively beaten by the same opposition earlier in the season in Outram.

The key to beating West Taieri is to dominate it up front, which puts the side’s impressive backline on the back foot. Easier said that done, that is for sure.

West Taieri’s inside back combination of Jackson Reid and Callum Smeaton run the game very well, and with hard working players such as Ethan Hippolite and Ben Davidson in the pack, West Taieri is an exceedingly difficult team to beat.

But if anyone is going to, it may well be Clutha, which is looking to continue its impressive record of success.

Clutha Valley and Crescent ended the round robin on equal points. Valley took second place with a superior points difference, thus locking away the South Otago banner for the season.

Valley had a strong win against Clinton and also managed to rest players with some niggly injuries. Both sides will be at almost full strength, as some key players return for each of them.

Jared Edwards will return at halfback for Valley, shifting the impressive Josh Botting back to the side of the scrum. This match will be Botting’s 200th for his beloved Valley side.

Crescent will welcome back captain Harley McHardy, whose leadership will be vital for his side. Crescent loose forward Andy Carruthers is playing in his 100th match for the Coalminers this weekend too.

The bottom four semifinals has Heriot hosting Clinton and Owaka hosting Toko.

 - Francis Parker 

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