West Taieri favoured for premier 2 title; unsure about premier 1

Two prizes are on the line for West Taieri this weekend — although it is unsure it will claim both of them.

The first — its second premier two club rugby banner in as many years — is its main focus for now.

However, if it  caps an unbeaten season by beating Dunedin in today’s final at Forsyth Barr Stadium, it will also have the option of challenging for a spot in the premier grade.

Last year the side played  Green Island in a promotion-relegation game.

It was competitive, but ran out of steam in the final 20 minutes and was beaten 37-17.

That game would be against Zingari-Richmond this year, although West Taieri president Darryl MacKenzie said the club was unsure if it would challenge.

"It’s in the thinking," he said.

"Obviously we’ve got to finish this week first and see how we’re sitting.

"Then it’ll be a case of celebrating if we win and then having some serious discussions about whether we challenge or not.

"So nothing’s confirmed at this point either way. It’s in the background but we’re just trying to focus on this week."

If West Taieri was to challenge and win, Zingari-Richmond would remain in the premier grade as a spot was  opened by Pirates’ pulling out last year.

That would remove the bye from the competition.

However, that could be complicated by possible merger talks Harbour  is having with Zingari-Richmond and Alhambra-Union.

Either way it would be a big step up for West Taieri and the club was well aware of that.

"We would probably need to get a few players to come in and join the club.

"But then again we did take the step up from senior to premier two.

"We struggled the first year, but then we won  it last year and we’re in the final again this year, so the boys have proved they can step up.

"But we’re under no illusions it is quite a big step up to premier one."

West Taieri  had continued to build on its progress from last year and now had a second team,  in the senior grade.

That enabled it to fit the criteria to play premier one rugby and  also enhanced the club environment.

The side enters today’s final as favourite, having gone through the round-robin unbeaten.

It has a strong forward pack led by lock and captain Ben Davidson, who recently brought up 100 games, as well as some handy backs.

Today’s game kicks off at 1.30pm.

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