Taieri battles into top four the hard way

Taieri is making its first appearance in the top four this season, and it has taken the long route to get there.

The Eels have been playing catch up since having to sit out the first round due to a bye and losing their opening game to Harbour.

But May has been the making of the team.

It has not played a single game at its beloved Peter Johnstone Park in four weeks, but has clawed up the standings anyway.

It rescued a bonus point in the 22-15 loss to Kaikorai at Bishopscourt and has won its last three games on the trot.

Its 34-20 win against Southern at Bathgate Park was important, while the 15-7 win against Dunedin and the 27-24 win against Alhambra-Union (AU) were far from perfect performances, but a sure sign Taieri is battling for a semifinal appearance.

The good news for the Taieri faithful is the team will host four of its six remaining round-robin games in Mosgiel.

The Eels will appreciate the home advantage because they face some quality opponents in the run into the playoffs, starting with Kaikorai tomorrow.

They have tough games against Green Island on June 22 and Harbour on July 6 as well, while their last round-robin game against University on foreign turf may make or break the season.

Coach Phil Young was pleased with the results during the last four weeks if not the performance. He felt his side took AU too lightly and was not as disciplined as it needed to be.

However, he feels he has the side to make the playoffs, but it would all come down to "what personnel you have available''.

"If we can go through unscathed then we'll be pretty close. If you haven't got cattle at the right time of the year, well that is when it comes and bites you.

"We've tried to manage our group as best as we can. We've been fortunate so far but we are a bit light in a couple of areas.

"If we get injuries in those departments it could be quite difficult.''


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