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Back from Fiji and ready to go as the season is getting to finals footy.
So the Landers went to Fiji and got thrashed by 40 as their season is starting to unravel a bit.
So was it a successful experiment?
Dollar wise, probably yes. The Fiji budget was announced the other day and I noted with interest it has put $3.55 million into a "Super" game there next year. So if it was similar this time the Highlanders will have scooped the cash.
They were well and truly ambushed by the Chiefs, who stayed at Lami (well out of the Suva rat race), sailed under the radar in Suva and won it in a canter - the benefit of three years of experience in Bula Land.
Wriggling in hot water
The word on the street is the Eels have run foul of refereeing officialdom with an appalling display in the recent Taieri v Varsity game, which not surprisingly they lost.
Eden Brown (not a bad young ref) and his "touchies" came in for unwarranted barbs from coaches, the bench and then the supporters as well. This made it a very unpleasant experience for the young officials.
This is simply not good enough! Especially when we have been preaching better behaviour at kids' games on Saturday mornings. What sort of example is this?
I hear ref supremo Harty didn't want to supply a team for the weekend's game between Kaik and the Eels. A little bird tells me a meeting was held between the union, the refs and the Eels last week and apologies have flown and the Eels are certainly on notice.
I hear the behaviour of the numerous-toed Eel supporters was exemplary - then again they did win! Let's not see a repeat from any club this season.
So what is the make-up of the four in two week's time? This is what will happen.
Varsity (61 pts) has Southern and the bye to go. Taieri (48 pts) has AU and Zingari to go. Harbour (47 pts) has Dunedin and Kaik to go. Kaikorai (46 pts) has the bye and Harbour to go. Southern (45 pts) has Varsity and AU to go. Dunedin (39 pts) has Harbour and GI to go.
Varsity has already finished top and will host a home semi. Taieri, with two easier games to go, will win both and host a semi. Harbour, with two tough games to go, will win at least one and finish third and play Taieri. Kaik only has Harbour to go and could miss out. A decimated Southern outfit will need to beat AU to qualify fourth but should play Varsity in the semi. Dunedin has two tough games to go and even if the Red Sea parted again and Moses rewrote the Bible, just have too much to do, so no, don't get up.
There, simple. But remember no Otago players after this weekend, so that will be a factor - but I feel that may change, so look out for more fireworks then!
Put August 4 in your diaries now. The Prem final (3pm), the Prem II final (1pm) and the Prem Colts final (11.30pm) are all being played at the Greenhouse that Saturday. Food stalls, bars open, junior rugby comps, bouncy castles, bands: it's all happening. It's a fantastic concept and the rugby community needs to get behind it - more next week.
Sam Anderson-Heather has followed Don Brighouse to the Crusaders and is suiting up for them this weekend - congrats Sumo. But do the Crusaders compensate the Sharks? Send them a cheque, you grave robbers!
The Metro Committee should give itself an uppercut - insisting Junior Colts have to have enough props to start games or you default. It's hard enough getting kids to play now - wake up or get out of the kitchen!
Big Alex Ainley (37) had a whale of a game for the Sharks last week against Southern. There were at least four or five 18-year-olds playing in that game from both sides who thought "he's older than my father!" But they certainly learnt a thing or two about commitment.
In North Otago the semis are on this weekend, with Kurow at home to Maheno and Old Boys up against Valley. It's close, as unbeatable Old Boys have lost three of their last five but I'm picking an Old Boys v Kurow final.
Owaka won its second game of the season last week when it thrashed Toko and will play-off for the Wooden Spoon against Lawrence this weekend. There is an open-top parade through town on Sunday, regardless. Tractors, Landrovers, sheep, cattle, chickens are invited.
You mightn't think a win deserves that, but Frances Parker, our rugby correspondent, has played 138 games for Owaka for nine wins, so it bloody is!
Have won the last three weeks against cantankerous old codgers from various clubs and on to Rugby Roy Daniels from the Magpies, so the roll continues. The Spannerheads (13+) tighten the nuts over Zingers at Bastion Point. The Eels (13+) get it done at the Pony Pit over AU and Varsity (13+) is far too strong out wide for the Magpies at the Oval. The Hawks will dismember the Sharks (12-) at the Sandpit but in all consciousness I can't have them! Remember all games are at 1.45pm tomorrow.