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Now I’m really confused after a round that defies belief. Harbour thrashed Kaik at the High Veldt to go to 20 points so seems assured of making the six. Taieri walloped Southern at the Eelpit and is in the six and, with its run, should be top qualifier and win the Gallaway. It has finally given itself a points differential.
Dunedin put 50 on Varsity at the Sandpit and is back in the hunt for the six but far from safe. AU nabbed the five from Zingers but it was a close-run thing so it is still scrapping for a spot.
I have been saying 18 points gets you in but I’m revising that to a cut-off mark of 22 points. So Taieri and Harbour look safe but the other five teams are separated by three points (Varsity 17, Kaikorai 17, Dunedin 15, Southern 14, AU 14). Dunedin plays AU this weekend and Varsity takes on Kaik so the winners will make a big statement and probably confirm a spot.
The spectre of Covid
As I pen this (noon Thursday) the union and the Council of Rugby Clubs are determined — provided we have the OK — that rugby will be played this weekend. But safety will be our primary consideration. Under Level 2, we can play but we must ensure all protocols are observed. Contact tracing, social distancing, gatherings of 100 people or fewer and hygiene requirements. The clubs met last night to ensure they could all meet the required standards. A lot of work to do but the group is committed to getting it right and making it happen.
Down on the farm
Down in Gumboot land, the Galbraith Shield final is between Southland A (Woodlands) and Star. The word is the Marist boys are still wandering around dazed and confused as to why they didn’t make it! Woodlands wins in a canter.
The West Taieri Pigs take on Clutha Valley at Outram and will easily remain unbeaten for the season and collect all the available silverware.
In Central, it’s semifinal time with unbeaten White Horse holder Cromwell taking on Wakatipu and Upper Clutha meeting the Arrow Bulls. Cromwell — too big, too strong — marches to the final and will play Upper Clutha but that semi could also go the other way.
In the winterless North, Maheno takes on Old Boys and Valley plays Kurow. It will be a Maheno-Valley final.
You wouldn’t read about it
I’ve been waxing lyrical about Strath Taieri being unbeaten for two years and, as per usual, I’ve destroyed the legend as it got thumped by the Harbour Hawks in seniors. In my defence, I did say these two teams would make the final — well done, lads. Just to add to my crumbling infallibility, I said it would be a Varsity-Pirates final in the women’s grade as it is ad nauseam. Hold the phone — AU tipped over Pirates at the weekend. Unbelievable. Is this the end of the line for Pirates?
Former Highlander prop Josh Hohneck was seen strolling round the paddock for Eastern in a prem II game against the Sharks at the Sandpit at the weekend. By the way, he single-handedly destroyed the Dunedin scrum and on the strength of that has been signed for Otago. Really? Good work if you can get it.
The important bits
Eels midfielder Kori Rupene plays his 150th this weekend in the Battle of the Saddle — good on ya, mate. Richly deserved. Remember to keep September 19 FREE (no, not for the election!) for club finals day at the Greenhouse. I’ll give you more details next week but I’m expecting a 5000 crowd and all profits go back into grass-roots rugby. Speaking of crowds, seats for after-matches with a 100-person restriction will be in high demand. Word is Taity at AU is running a ballot and Chairman ‘‘Don’’ from CRC has missed out so if you need him he’ll be at the Baa Bar on Saturday afternoon!
Crushed Harbour Lock Tim Medder last weekend and on to Big Baz Potgeiter from AU so I will just get further ahead in the comp against the prem locks. The Eels (12-) slither up the Saddle and jelly the Spannerheads to the Toolbox posts but it will be a massive encounter — don’t be surprised if GI turns them over. Southern (13+) has a couple of Landers and Zingers has three but it won’t be enough so Southern grabs a much-needed five pointer. AU has a couple of Landers and Dunedin (12-) is home-grown this weekend but, on the back of last week, nearly confirms a spot in the six. Varsity (12-) takes on Kaik and I can only see an 18-18 draw but I’ll go with the Bookworms just, as they’ll be more desperate.