Rugby: Otago Boys' chasing South Island title

Crunch time has arrived for the Otago Boys' High School First XV.

After winning all 22 games it has played this season, it journeys to Christchurch for a match to decide the South Island champion, and a place in the national top four.

Otago Boys' will play Christchurch Boys' at that school's ground in the garden city and will be hoping to repeat what it did last month.

In the traditional interschool between the two teams in July, Otago Boys' earned a nail-biting 22-19 win through some heroic defence.

Otago Boys' coach Ryan Martin admits there was not much separating the teams on that occasion and he expects the same today.

"They are a very good team, with classy players right throughout ... It will be a very tight and tough type of game," Martin said.

He thought the game would probably come down to a couple of key decisions. The side which remained composed when the pressure went on would be successful.

Martin said his team had trained well this week and was excited about the challenge.

Otago Boys' has lost big loose forward Troy Callander to injury.

Callander came off the bench in the Highlanders First XV final last week and impressed, but his thumb injury is still not quite right.

Key midfield back Aleki Morris is in doubt with a shoulder injury and a decision on whether he will play will be made just before kick-off.

If he does not make it, winger Josh Casey will move into centre, Sio Tomkinson will go to second five-eighth and one of the reserve backs, Corey Miller or Lisala Halaeva, will come on to the wing.

Martin said the game would at least be played on a ground in much better condition than Littlebourne.

Last week's 41-3 win over Waitaki Boys' was on a muddy Otago Boys' home ground.

Martin's team will benefit from the firmer track in Christchurch, giving its backs more freedom.

Christchurch Boys' has a big pack, though it will be without captain Angus Cameron.

First five-eighth Fletcher Smith, who is also the stand-in skipper, is a quality player and will have to be shut down by Otago Boys'.

Otago Boys' will look to its big pack for an advantage and will have the services of halfback and captain Josh Renton, who did not play in the interschool match between the sides because of a knee injury.

The winner of the game will play the winner of the Hurricanes schools region in Rotorua on September 8. Napier Boys' beat Gisborne Boys' in the Hurricanes final yesterday.

In Gore today, the South Island co-educational school final will be played between Gore High School and St Andrew's College, of Christchurch.

In Invercargill, the South Island girls final will take place between Southland Girls' and Christchurch Girls'.

South Island rugby final
Christchurch, today, 2.45pm
Otago Boys' High School: Sean Conner, Josh Casey, Sio Tomkinson, Aleki Morris, Eti Slater, Sam Ellis, Josh Renton (captain), Alex Fitzgerald, Hayden Cleghorn, Josh Dickson, Shay Kerry, Brendan Murdoch, Jermaine Ainsley, Sekonaia Pole, Ryan Williams.
Reserves: Ben Hendry, Will Holdom, George Latta, Josh Dawson, Ben Miller, Corey Miller, Lisala Halaeva.
Christchurch Boys' High School: Sam Aitken, Brad Hemopo, Michael Green, Anton Lienert-Brown, Angus Blair, Fletcher Smith (captain), William Hamilton, Jules Webley, Oakley Johnston, Hugo Nankivell, William Borrie, Geoff Cridge, Steven Misa, David Ingham, Logan Cole.
Reserves: Anty Burnett, Blair Prinsep, Ruaridh MacKenzie, Henry Hooker, Harrison Groundwater, Myles Thoroughgood, Ryan Fowler, Callum King.


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