Things heating up into semis

Paul Dwyer gives his run down on the week in rugby.

The wrap

The mighty Zingers boys stormed up to seventh in the comp with a comfortable victory over the Shetland Ponies who have definitely lost their GPS over the past few weeks, after at one stage vying for the four.

That also puts the mighty Eels into second last and just out of the spoon range — how the mighty have fallen.  Harbour crushed Varsity with some ominous forward power and the whisper has become a crescendo that this is their year.

Varsity finishes the year with five wins and a mountain to climb next season.  Southern and Dunedin played out a tame draw in the end but both sides would have got plenty out of it going into the semis.  Southern deservedly got  its  hands on the "Gallaway" at the weekend presented by Iain’s son, Garth, at the Southern clubrooms.  The Gallaway family and especially Ian don’t get enough recognition for presenting this trophy and the "mysterious" cheque every year.  All clubs owe the family a debt of gratitude.  Kaik got it done over GI and goes into the semis with some confidence.  Alas, the Spannerheads get the "spoon" but I’ll discuss that in the dreaded "Report card" next week.

I do

Now, this is unique. Southern was playing Pirates in the women’s grade last weekend and losing 103-0 with time up on the clock.  The game carried on for a couple of extra minutes and the ref called out the Southern openside for some alleged indiscretion. The Southern captain was called over by the ref to hear the outcome.  Meanwhile, the Southern team unfurled a big banner with a marriage proposal from the 7 to the captain — much to her amazement when she turned to look at it.  Great yarn and hugs all round (proposal accepted) — seems everyone was in on it apart from the captain!  Congrats from yours truly.

Remember when . . .

Twenty years ago this guy achieved a record in club rugby (1997) that is unlikely to be broken any time soon. Now email me his name and the record. Thanks to his mum, Laurel, for sending me in the photo. First person to email in the correct answers today and I’ll get "Harty" from Liquorland to come up with a sumptuous prize for that particular elephantine memory.

The Form XV

After much angst and hand-wringing I’ve come up with the best team from club rugby this season.  It  had to play a big chunk of the season and had to be the most consistent players in their positions. The loosies picked themselves with Hame Toma, Ben Whale and Mika Mafi being standouts all year.  The props were easy with Jonah Aiona and Don Brighouse mentioned most weeks.  Halfback Kurt Hammer and first five-eighth Josh Ioane delivered all year.  Midfielder Leroy van Dam must have tied up an Otago contract as he has been the best midfielder on display all year.

Winger Jono Nareki has been the most dangerous winger in the game this year.  Hooker, lock, another midfielder, winger and fullback were tough but all these guys deserve their spots so my team is: Sala Halaleva (H), Ciaran Gaffney (Z), Leroy van Dam (D), Paul Tupai (S), Jona Nareki (AU), Josh Ioane (S), Kurt Hammer (T), Mika Mafi (S), Hame Toma (D), Ben Whale (H), Jared Williams (GI), Chucky Koroi (H), Jonah Aiona (K), Pete Mirrielees (GI), Don Brighouse (D).

Country rugby

In the north, Valley plays Excelsior and Old Boys play Kurow.  I’m picking an Old Boys v Valley final but let’s be honest. Old Boys just win ...In the South, Clutha plays Lawrence and Clutha Valley plays Crescent.  I’m picking a "kissing cousins" final with Clutha and Clutha Valley.  But, really, we are delaying the inevitable — Clutha just wins!

In the only tight race, cast your eye to the Central comp. Wakatipu plays Cromwell and Arrowtown plays the Maggots. I’m tipping a Wakatipu v Maggots final in Queenstown but it could go any way.

The White Horse Cup has been locked up for the year by Cromwell.

It  only gets  its name on it for the third time in history.  Firstly in 1933, then 2007 and now 2017.  You only get your name engraved if you hold it at the end of the season and it’s been going since the 1920s.  Good on you, lads, thus I’d imagine they are not too worried if they don’t make the finals.

The semis

The weather forecast is awful — snow, sleet, rain, 100kmh winds and we are playing these games at a very exposed Hancock Park.  There will be hypothermia abounding for the backs, spectators, the reserves and the commentary team huddled inside some dodgy scaffolding stuck between the two grounds. I apologise in advance to our five listeners if my tongue is frozen to the roof of my mouth by the second game. Then again that maybe a blessing.

In the early game, Harbour is the overwhelming favourite and on  form should go through to the final.  The Harbour ranks have been bolstered by Highlanders Sio Tomkinson and Tevita Li and by all accounts Aussie No8 Pat Sio is a powerful ball-runner off the bench.  Its pack is solid, 1 through 8, and their loosies have seldom been bested this yearDunedin doesn’t  have  talisman Sam Anderson-Heather so could be making up the numbers on Saturday. Another black mark against it is  being named best midfielder in the comp in Leroy van Dam on the wing — bizarre!

Southern has been the best side in the comp all year and with its big pack and solid backline should account for Kaik convincingly. But don’t write Kaik off. Dan Pryor and Josh Renton are fronting tomorrow and flanker Slade McDowell is back so it will be closer than you think.

This weekend

Destroyed Cory Brown last weekend and on to Lance Abramovich Spence this weekend so I’ll go close. Southern (12-) deserves to make the final. It will play Harbour next weekend but I’d be morally corrupt to pick them so Sharks (12-) just.  Good luck to all four teams.

The late mail

Dunedin’s best and most rotund accountant is at it again in the car-crash stakes.  Firstly, his wife comes home and ploughs into his car so that’s two BMWs down.  He  takes her spare BMW and crashes going uphill in the ice ... strange but true.

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