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Who makes the four?
There are five teams left and five doesn't fit into four, so who will miss out? Southern, Dunedin, AU and Zingers are yesterday's news. There are five rounds to go and apart from Harbour there is only a four point spread over Taieri, GI, Varsity and Kaik. So what is the run in for the Top Five?
Harbour has Varsity, AU, Kaik, Taieri and the bye. Taieri has Zingers, GI, bye, Harbour and Varsity. GI has Southern, Kaik and Taieri. Kaikorai has AU, Dunedin, Harbour, Varsity and Zingari. Confused? You shouldn't be. Harbour has 48 points and you need 50 to be safe, so it only really needs to beat AU to make it - lock it in.
Taieri has only one easy game - Zingers this weekend - plus a bye, so will have to beat at least one of GI, Harbour or Varsity. GI has a better draw, with two easy games in AU and Dunedin, but has a bye thrown in so will need 10 points from those two games.
Varsity has two easier games in Southern and Zingers and the full five games, so a bit easier. Kaik has the full five games plus AU, Dunedin and Zingers, so again looks easier. So, in summary, Harbour, Varsity and Kaik make the four. It's a lot tighter between Taieri and GI. but looking at the draw advantage GI would be the team to back.
Meanwhile, out on the farm
In the North, another default from Athies, which is not good. And to add insult it only happened five minutes before kick-off. The word is the other clubs who have bent over backwards to help Athies in terms of kick-off times etc are more than peeved. In fact Excelsior, which was down to play it, is sending a huge bill for the strapping tape for the game.
A little bird also tells me Mike Mata'afa, who flew the coop from Southern to Maheno, could be gone already through injury after an almighty collision with one of the starting Old Golds props at scrumtime. Interesting. Jacko certainly has his hands full!
In Central I hear I'm getting lambasted for not heaping more praise on Central for getting up over South in the Topp Cup game at Meads Birthday weekend. Fair call. Big congrats to Potter and his boys for emerging victorious in Lawrence in the big shindig.
Also good to just see some rugby in Lawrence.
I see the Maggots got whipped by Upper Clutha, but the word is they sent out a very much under strength side as they have flagged making the four and are only interested in holding on to the "White Horse". They put it on the line against the Cromwell Goats, who warmed up with a big win over Wakatip last weekend. This will be the biggest game of the year in Ranfurly - the Maggots just.
I hear the NZR board has been bagged for not being in touch with the grassroots game on radio (does anybody actually listen to radio?). Well, there is at least one board member who is doing his bit, as he did the presentation of "Big Luke's" 100th for the Highlanders on Friday night and was spotted at the Goats game in Cromwell on Saturday. He shall remain nameless as he shuns publicity, but he may have run Lion in NZ at some stage and may have started at Speight's in Dunedin.
Some interesting bitz
James Tomkinson, from the Hawks, plays his 100th game this weekend - congrats mate. One of the true blue collar battlers and is still in the Rugby Chat form XV. In a nice touch his Highlander brother, Sio, is turning out for Harbour as well this weekend. I hear the Hawks club after Hale's 100th last weekend was still going on Sunday morning - stunning! Now Bender's departure is imminent and Rugby Chat marked the occasion with an in-depth one-on-one with him this week. It is in four parts (it's a lot of years), so catch it on the odt.co.nz - he is a special man and will be missed. And if you are looking for a game to watch on Saturday, check out the top two Prem Colts teams in the form of Kaik and the Makos going at it at 1pm at Shark Park.
Destroyed Teague McElroy from the Sharks last weekend to take the lead over the props by a rather paltry five points as we are heading to the business end.
On to Sidney Fidow from Kaik this week and I am worried to say the least. GI (12-) should be too good for Southern at the Toolbox to consolidate its spot in the four. Kaik (13+) should be too good for AU up on the high veldt, but I have a nagging feeling it could be a lot closer than I think. The Eels (13+) slither into town and up to Bastion Point to take on Zingers and should win comfortably.
The game of the round is Varsity (12-) at home to table topper Harbour and it could come down to battle of the Highlanders. Hunt, Faddes and Umaga-Jensen are playing for Varsity, so the students could sneak it. So it looks like a draw in the picking comp.