In tight comp, Taieri keeps winning

The wrap

The Eels did what they do and strangled the life out of Varsity to confirm a spot in the six. Varsity got yet another bonus point (four now) and is only one win away and should get that this weekend over Zingers. Giant Killers AU tipped over a winless GI to give it a chance of making the six. For GI the dream is over – more soon! Kaik, with a five-pointer over the Sharks, is locked and loaded in the six. The Sharks are teetering but do have a game in hand. Harbour struggled over Zingari but got the five points to give themselves a chance of the six. Then there were seven with a chance of the six as Zingers and GI look toast four games into the season.

The Mythical 50

The word on the street is the current wider Otago training squad sits at 50, with a lot of the players sitting on "$1" contracts. Now we know there are about 23 players with actual contracts so that leaves around five or so up for grabs.

The worry for the prem clubs is when Otago goes into full training, purportedly on August 20, how many players from the 50 are just released back to club rugby? Simple math says 135 players start prem rugby each week so 50, as you can see, is a significant number not to have. Obviously, it won’t be this bad but we need some answers. More soon. If anybody actually has the list, send me a copy.

Year of the haunt

As discussed last year, the GI year of the hunt is haunting it big-time with yet another loss to AU on this occasion. The AU supporters were bemused with the GI warm up out at the Toolbox with a massive boombox pumping out the rap music. Word is the prematch speech this week is not being given by any of the eight coaches but "50 cent" himself. However I digress. The likeable Devin Stapley (halfback) plays his 100th this weekend for them and the indefatigable human dynamo Pete Mirrielees plays his 50th (God knows how many prem games now!). Great work lads.

You wouldn’t read about ...

Big Jamie Joseph has been spotted out at Bathgate since the loss to AU to put some rigidity into the Magpie pack so it will be interesting how it goes against GI this weekend. A tip, lads. Get it done for Jamie or else! Former Landers captain Nasi Manu has been in town and word is he’s taking one of the contract spots still open for Otago. Speaking of the Landers, some have had a tough weekend to deal with and they weren’t even playing — young men! But there are three great initiatives this week, so well done to Clarkey and the team. First, every registered junior player in Otago gets in free Sunday, which is a great marketing ploy because Mum or Dad will have to go. Second, every life member from every club has been invited free — stunning work. Also, a kid and a life member from every club will form a guard of honour as the Landers come out — heart-string stuff. Third, Highlanders reffing Saturday morning footy— a masterstroke.

Question, have any teams "Bender" Smith has been running water for lately actually won?

Country rugby

In Southland, it’s one-way traffic down there with the shadow Southland team (Woodlands) leading by a margin and a certainty to win the Galbraith. Has Pup Shepherd found another "Piggy Bank" to raid? In Clutha, West Taieri thrashed pretender Clutha Valley to sit top alone— – cancel the comp now, they win. On a sad note, Alan "Huddy" Huddleston, who was club captain at Clutha for 34 years, died this week. His son Darren has taken up the mantle and is the current club captain.

The word is, however, Clutha don’t make the four this year. That’s unthinkable, surely? In Central, Cromwell never loses so at this stage is cantering to the title ... boring. It’s too complicated now in the North but still Maheno’s to lose.

This weekend

Destroyed Brian Morris from Mitchell’s Tavern with a draw and I win all draws. On to Woody Kirkwood (I think he is in the mythical 50) the Spannerhead lock, so the comp against the middle-rowers starts with a solid win to yours truly. The Magpies (12-) just get it done over the hapless Spannerheads because of a looming "Big Jamie" on the sideline. The Eels (12-) halt the AU run by sucking the oxygen out of them at the Pony Pit. The Sharks (12-) provided they don’t get lost in the gelatinous mass at Squid Stadium just get up to beat the Hawks. Varsity (13+) bank the five over Zingers to consolidate their spot.

Late mail

If you’re struggling to get prem rugby scores on a Saturday afternoon just go to odt.co.nz/sport for all the up to scores and video comment. The home of club rugby.

Paul.dwyer@alliedpress.co.nz

 

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