Dogfight for fourth spot

Paul Dwyer gives his weekly take on the club rugby scene.

The wrap

It was Horatio at the bridge stuff for the Harbour Hawks as they repelled wave after wave of Southern attacks to cling to a hard-earned halftime lead and give the Magpies their second loss for the season.

Varsity wasn’t overly flash against a tenacious Taieri outfit but did enough to record its first win for five weeks to reclaim fifth spot, three clear of a chasing AU. Kaik just keeps on winning (like Noodlum) with a 20-point victory and is safely inside the four. Dunedin, playing tidy wet-weather rugby, crushed GI at the Toolbox to reclaim top spot on points difference from Southern and it has had only one blip on its report card.

By my reckoning, 48-49 points will get you safely into the four this year so Dunedin and Southern  need only three more wins and Harbour probably four. It is still shaping like an absolute dogfight for fourth with Kaik, Varsity and AU all still in it.

Cancellations and ramifications

So we only played prem rugby at the weekend and I sort of can understand that. But the conditions weren’t that bad, so was it an overreaction?If we were worried about our grounds why weren’t all the remaining games played out at the beach where you wouldn’t know it had been raining? At one stage on Saturday morning, we were going to play prem rugby, Highlanders first XV and the next school grade down — now that to me was bizarre! The Godfather Richard Perkins himself tried to explain that to me at the Toolbox on Saturday and I still didn’t get it but let’s move on. As an aside, McGlashan played Aspiring at Kettle Park on Saturday as it was already in town on Friday night. According to Chairman Mao, Reggie from the metro committee by any other name, the games will all be made up and that could add a week on to the comps, which is not ideal. There may be some thought of allowing teams to play the catch-up game in a midweek time slot if possible.

The infamous interschool

Eye-gouging, headbutts, punches, haka confrontations — we must be talking about the infamous Canterbury-Lions game of 1971? No, we are not, it’s OBHS against King’s last Tuesday at Littlebourne. Is this the stuff of new legend? Well, let’s hope not. I’ve seen the video of OBHS doing the haka and encroaching on halfway and King’s arm in arm moving forward to meet them. There are a couple of swinging handbags and possibly a couple of nodding love taps but yawnable, really. Both sides were not supposed to go beyond their own 10m mark but they obviously didn’t read that memo! Three OBHS lads were suspended by the judiciary for five weeks in total so it wasn’t that serious. But regardless, not a great look, so lets take a deep breath, learn from it and move on — life’s too short!

An interesting twist

Simon Knight plays his 100th game for the Magpies this weekend against the Eels (watch Rugby Chat on ODT website). Simon has migrated from flanker to prop as he has swallowed a lot of hammers on the building site in the last couple of years! He started in 2009 but has had a couple of seasons off with some serious injuries. He was telling me he was bidding for his old man’s (big Dick Knight himself) jersey at the 1991 Otago team reunion last year but at $500 it started getting a bit rich for him and he pulled the pin, much to the disappointment of Crazy Latta, who was kneeing him in the back at the time. Anyway, I digress. At the match function after the Harbour game against Southern at Bathgate Park on Saturday, Lance Abramovich Spence, who was the mysterious bidder at that auction, presented the framed jersey to the Knight boys, Simon and Adam. Touching gesture, mate, and outstanding work. Congrats on reaching the 100, Simon, and to the Eel supporters, keep out of big Dick Knight’s way if things aren’t going well for Magpies at the Eelpit!

Strikingly amusing

Spare a thought for Matt Bradley, the Dunedin prem II lock on Saturday at the Toolbox. Starting lock Morgan Reedy blew his calf in the warm-up and poor old Matt was press-ganged into the reserves on his arrival to watch the game. He’d just swallowed a whole Peking duck from some dodgy Chinese joint and washed it down with a litre of chocolate milk. So after vomiting copiously in the changing rooms he joined the reserve bench out on the Toolbox and managed to get on for 20 minutes for his first prem game!

The Perkins Memorial

Godfather Perkins is the only person (that’s how important he is!) to have a memorial trophy in his name while still living! It is up for grabs this weekend at Outram at 3pm between West Taieri and the Sharks (Perkins played for both clubs). The Sharks have a coterie of inauspicious coaches, who are supervisors at best, but they love a good after-party. The Sharks are taking a bus out, so to West Taieri, I give you fair warning — lock up your houses and your daughters — they won’t be back till Sunday! It should be a grand old affair as West Taieri is top of the grade and the Sharks are second so to the victor go the spoils, and I want stories for next week!

Some other bits

The free rope from Donaghy’s that Harty, the refs supremo, organised for all the grounds wasn’t free at all, apparently! The ORFU got a bill much to general manager Richard Kinleys chagrin — Harty, please explain? Steve Davie, from Medical Research, has got the bit between his teeth (perhaps that will limit the talking) with his luncheon on the day of the Highlanders game against the Lions and so far has Sam Leary and Ian Stevens from the 1959 side to beat the Lions coming plus Maurice Collins, Ken Prain and John Levido from the 1966 Otago side that also delivered. More next week but get your tickets now!Varsity halfback Conor McLeod —  surely they put him in the Highlanders. Pup Kerr, he’s a marketer’s dream; step up and sign him! So no Ben Patston for GI on Saturday at flyhalf (or in his case wallowing half!), his excuse was golf — but the word is golf was cancelled, mysterious to say the least! Oh and the Maggots have got their hands back on the White Horse much to Wakatip’s horror. Good on you,  lads.

This week

Destroyed big Ben Whale from the Hawks with a draw and I win all draws. On to  Eels captain Mitchell Scott this weekend so the unbeaten run will hit 10 rounds — unheard of. AU and Varsity nearly too close to call. Nareki is out for AU and Fletcher Smith is playing for Varsity (12-) so it could be that simple. A draw would not surprise but the Bookworms just. The Sharks (12-) are at home to the men from the mountain, Kaik. Kaik goes in as a warm favourite on the back of recent form and Highlander Dan Pryor starts on the flank. It is the Sharks’ bogey team but I’d rather carry Doc Dougherty all the way to the High Veldt than pick it! Southern (12-) should be too big up front for the Eels and, even though Taieri’s favourite son, Jimmy Lentjes, is back, I can’t have it. It is Harbour’s (13+) big anniversary weekend and, honestly, the GI Spannerheads are merely a metallic appetiser. It could be huge. Hope the night goes well, lads, and feed me some stories for next week! 

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