Little to choose between finalists

The Citizens Shield. Photo: Rugby In North Otago
The Citizens Shield. Photo: Rugby In North Otago
Maheno and Old Boys will meet tomorrow in the final of the 112th Citizens Shield competition, the symbol of senior club competition in North Otago.

The match will kick off at 2.30pm at Whitestone Contracting Stadium.

At the completion of three full rounds, defending champion and top qualifier Valley met fourth-placed Maheno in one semifinal last Saturday, Maheno knocking Valley out 29-21.

In the other semifinal, Excelsior, which had beaten Old Boys three times in the round-robin qualifying rounds, failed at the final hurdle when Old Boys took the honours 33-21.

Old Boys and Maheno have met three times this season. Old Boys won the first round 26-15, had to default in the second round and Maheno won 27-26 in the third clash.

Old Boys and Maheno lost seven and six matches respectively but did well when it mattered.

It may be time North Otago adopts a playoff system similar to that employed by South Canterbury in which the two top qualifiers are given a bonus win if their first knockout game ends in defeat.

It is then able to play the winner of the third and fourth qualifiers.

Under the system in North Otago, if the top club loses its first game in the playoffs it is eliminated.

After playing 15 games in three rounds of qualifying rugby, the top club should earn some sort of reward.

While revising the local system, it might pay to reassess the effect of defaults.

This season there have been five defaults in premier rugby. There does not appear to be any justice in penalising a defaulting club, but should a club pick up maximum points without playing a game?

Maheno last won the Shield in 2016, defeating Old Boys, which at the time was attempting to win to take the trophy for its sixth successive victory.

The score was tied at fulltime but, in extra time, Maheno left winger Adam Johnston touched down in the corner and the green machine claimed the Citizens Shield.

Old Boys will be chasing its 31st win in the final. Maheno has won the Citizens Shield 16 times, although in 1945 it formed a combined team with Excelsior which won the shield.

Nick Webster will referee the final.

Kurow and Valley will meet in the president's grade final while the Waitaki women take on University in the women's club semifinals.

Citizens Shield final 

Whitestone Contracting Stadium, tomorrow, 2.30pm

Maheno: Ben McCarthy, Adam Johnston, Clement Gasca, Sam Tatupu, Forrest Beer, Lachie Kingan, Robbie Smith, Josh Clark, Marcus Balchin, Jackson Attfield, Josh Hayward, Brenton Scott, Michael Mata’afa, Hayden Tisdall, Logan Dunlop or Hayden Hastie. Reserves: Hastine or Dunlop, Uhila Malafu, Henry Mitchell, Ryan
McColl, Jo Heunis, Fem Bootsan, Jacob Day.

Old Boys: Seti Talalele or Sione Kavatoe, Omega Masoe, Alipate Tuipolotu, Lemi Masoe, Suli Tuivailala or Gene Marshall, Inoke Naudahu, Manu Taiti, Samisoni Tongotongo, Toni Taufa, Unga Kefu, Sale Pi’i, Paea Ala, Kelepi Funaki, Ralph Darling, Sione Halalele. Reserves: Inga Fangupo, Siua Ofa, Palavi Tahaafe, Latanoa Tuivailala, Panua Fariu, Marshall or Ilaitia Tahitua, Seti Talalele or Talafi Telefoni.

 - Terry O'Neill 

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