Lower-placed teams must lift

Crescent winger Fesui Viliamu is upended by Clinton loose forward Greg Landels at a club match in...
Crescent winger Fesui Viliamu is upended by Clinton loose forward Greg Landels at a club match in Kaitangata earlier this season. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
It is do-or-die time for the bottom four teams approaching the halfway mark in the second round of the Southern Region competition.

Twelve points separate fourth-placed Owaka (30 points) and fifth-placed Toko (18).

This weekend, all top four teams play a bottom four team, which could extend the margin by another four points if all the results go the way of the favourite.

Crescent still leads the way with 41 points, two points ahead of Clutha in second. The Coal Miners host bottom-of-the-table Clinton at Kaitangata, and the way Crescent is playing only one result seems likely. Crescent's forwards are leading the way, allowing their backs to receive front-foot ball and cause havoc out wide.

Crescent backs Chase Owen and Ethan Edwards have put their hands up in recent weeks and have more than accounted for the leadership of injured skipper Harley McHardy.

Crescent had a big 42-17 win over Roxburgh last weekend courtesy of a Nick McBride hat-trick.

Clinton coach Rhiane Smith was gutted for his side after a close loss to Clutha Valley last weekend.

"They boys gave everything they had. I can't argue with the effort they are putting in."

Clutha hosts Toko and two trophies are at stake. Clutha had a scrappy win over Owaka last weekend; a huge defensive effort won it the game.

Toko had a very impressive and hard-fought win over Heriot, but suffered an abominable amount of injuries in the process. The two teams played out a draw in the first round, with both sides looking for victory this time. Hopefully, Toko can field a competitive team.

Third-placed Heriot hosts Clutha Valley. The boys from Death Valley suffered a loss to Toko last weekend, but still climbed the ladder thanks to their two bonus points. Heriot sits in front of fourth-placed Owaka by one solitary point and needs maximum points from this match.

Clutha Valley came from behind to beat Clinton at the death last weekend. Valley has had some great impact from its bench players in recent weeks.

Replacement front rower Macrae Sanderson is at the top of his game at the moment and is adding plenty off the bench. Valley can still make the top four, but a loss this weekend will make that very hard.

Fourth-placed Owaka travels to Roxburgh with last week's close loss to Clutha smouldering underneath the skin. Owaka did more than enough to win the game but could not finish its chances.

Roxburgh was soundly beaten by Crescent, but it will be a different proposition at home. Owaka took the chocolates by quite a lot in the first round, but Roxburgh has proven it is no pushover, especially at home at Mince and Cheese Park.

 - Francis Parker

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