West Taieri to play promotion game

West Taieri Rugby Football Club will make a bold bid for promotion to the premier grade next month.

Its premier two team beat Kaikorai 25-16 in the final in Outram on Saturday and will now challenge Green Island in a promotion-relegation game.

The match has been scheduled for the North Ground on September 16.

West Taieri club president Darryl MacKenzie said the team was ''keen to see where they stand against a premier side and we will take it from there.

''It is a fairly big hill to climb and there is quite a difference between prem two and premier rugby.

''But the boys are keen to have a crack at it and we are supporting them.''

Just winning will be hard enough but West Taieri will need to do some recruiting during the off-season to progress with promotion.

Dunedin Metropolitan Rugby Council match committee convener Mike Reggett said clubs seeking promotion to the premier grade needed to show they could support a premier team by fielding a ''back-up team''.

''In other words, they would need either a premier two team or a division one colts team,'' Reggett said.

West Taieri falls short on that criterion. It has just one senior men's team.

''Even if we were to win the game, we would have a lot to do before we could definitely say we can make that step up,'' MacKenzie said.

The teams met during the pre-season and Green Island ''dealt to us pretty well.

''I can't recall the exact score but it was something like 44-5 or 44-10.

''It was pretty comprehensive but we were missing a few players and we've had a few guys come out of the woodwork for us.

''But it will still be a pretty tough game for us, particularly if the rumours turn out to be true and Bender [Ben Smith] comes back to play his 50th game for them.''

Green Island coach Dean Moeahu was able to quash that rumour.

All Black outside back Smith will not be delaying his sabbatical to play in the promotion-relegation game but Green Island will have a near full-strength side despite not having played since July 15.

Moeahu said the club was taken by surprise by the challenge but the team resumed training last night and would have three weeks together before the fixture.

''We were led to believe it wasn't going to happen,'' Moeahu said.

''If we knew it was on the cards then our guys would still be ticking over doing something. But good on West Taieri.

''They did bloody well to get through and win that final and have earned the right to challenge.

''They are definitely no mugs. They have a very, very good forward pack ... so it is not going to be an easy match by any means.''

Reggett said the Metropolitan Rugby Council was reviewing the competition regulations ''because there were some shortcomings with a large gap between the end of premier one and the end of premier two''.

The promotion-relegation game was shifted from September 9 to September 16 following a request from Green Island to give it more time to prepare.

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