Green Island must win

Zingari-Richmond blindside Ciaran Jansen pulls down Alhambra-Union No 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u in a...
Zingari-Richmond blindside Ciaran Jansen pulls down Alhambra-Union No 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu'u in a premier rugby match at the North Ground earlier this year.PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The equation is pretty simple for Green Island (51 points).

If it beats Dunedin at Miller Park tomorrow it will join University, Harbour and Taieri in the semifinals and eliminate Kaikorai.

Kaikorai (50 points) could well pick up a bonus point win against Zingari-Richmond. But if both sides finish on 55 points, Green Island goes through because it secured more flag points in the games between the two teams.

Reaching the playoffs would represent a colossal achievement for Green Island, which has battled to be taken seriously.

You do not have to wind the clock back much to see how far the Grizzlies have come. Five years ago Taieri routed Green Island 127-12. The following year Harbour smashed it 99-7.

And just two years ago the team had to see off the challenge from West Taieri in a promotion-relegation match.

Coach Dean Moeahu has been instrumental in the turnaround. The former halfback played 223 games for Green Island from 1995 to 2015.

He has been at the helm since retiring from playing, and it will mean a lot if his side can get through.

Dunedin stands in the way. The Sharks have been disappointing this season.

But they have strung back-to-back wins together in the last couple of weeks. They were also the last team to beat University, which is on an eight-game winning streak.

Green Island won the round five game 27-3. But that was in April and hardly relevant.

The Grizzlies will be without hard-running No8 Dylan Nel, who has been named in the Otago team for the Ranfurly Shield defence against Thames Valley in Wanaka tomorrow.

The door will be left ajar for Kaikorai if Green Island stumbles against what looks like a strong Dunedin side this weekend.

Kaikorai should be too good for Zingari-Richmond, but will be without first five-eighth Ben Miller, who is on debut for Otago. The Demons will also be missing experienced loose forward Slade McDowall, who will captain Otago in the Shield defence.

University (58 points) is missing a swag of Otago players, including electric fullback Taylor Haugh. It plays Taieri (56 points), which is also missing several key personnel.

Taieri can get a home semifinal with the win, while University already has a home semi secured.

Harbour (58 points) has a bye and will drop to third place if Taieri manage to beat University.

The game between Southern and Alhambra-Union at Bathgate Park will be of interest to the AU faithful. Any points AU can pick up in the game could help it avoid the wooden spoon.

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