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- Men’s Southern League
After five comfortable wins and lots of goals over the weekend, the Southern League will likely see some closer matches when the second round gets under way this weekend.
Newcomers to the league FC Twenty 11 will be in search of their first win in the competition when they travel to Dunedin to play Green Island on Saturday. Both teams lost in the first round, with Cashmere Technical dominating FC Twenty 11 6-0.
Cashmere head coach Dan Schwarz said he was happy with how clinical his team were against the newest addition to the league.
“It’s always difficult coming from preseason, and we didn’t know too much about FC but we definitely showed our class on the day,” he said.
Last year’s golden boot winner Garbhan Coughlan (right) netted four goals for Cashmere, two of them within three minutes in the second half.
Declan Tyndall and promising young striker, Zander Edwards also scored for Cashmere. They will travel to Nelson to take on Nelson Suburbs – who finished third last year – on Sunday.
“Nelson’s always a difficult one,” Schwarz said.
“The pitch is always heavy to play on, especially after the weather we’ve had this week. Nelson also have a very good squad at home, and it’s usually a tight battle with them.”
Selwyn United will host Dunedin City Royals at Foster Park on Saturday. Both teams recorded large wins over Nelson Suburbs and Nomads at the weekend.
Former Coastal player, Liam Coleman scored the first goal for Selwyn, with Scott McKay picking up another later in the first half. Jamie Carrodus and Darius van Wyk added more goals to give the home team a 4-1 win.
Nomads will take on Ferrymead Bays at home on Saturday following their 3-0 loss to Dunedin City Royals.
Ferrymead beat the Tulett Park-based team in their two encounters last season and will be confident of making it three in a row against Nomads after last weekend’s 3-0 win against Coastal Spirit.
Defending champions Christchurch United produced a 3-0 win over Green Island after leading 2-0 at the half. They will take on Coastal Spirit at Linfield Park on Sunday.
The two sides haven’t met in the league since June last year, when Christchurch were clinical during their 4-0 win on Coastal’s home ground.
- Women’s South Island Qualifying League
The newly merged Halswell-Christchurch United premier women’s team will take the pitch for the first time on Monday night.
The top four teams will qualify for the women’s South Island League, which will combine with the top two teams from the Southern Football competition.
Halswell-Christchurch will face University of Canterbury at the United Sports Centre on Monday.
On Saturday, FC Nomads will travel to Nelson’s Saxton Oval, while Selwyn United is set to host Cashmere Technical at Foster Park.
The 2022 South Island championship winners Coastal Spirit have a bye.
Round 1 of the men’s premiership saw two teams overcome half-time deficits to win their season-openers at the weekend.
The Hornby Panthers were down 14-0 against the Halswell Hornets on Saturday before No 9 Solomon Alaimalo produced a match-winning hat-trick in the second half. The Panthers took out the game 26-20.
On Saturday, the Panthers will take on the Eastern Eagles, who lost against defending champions, the Linwood Keas, at home in the first round.
The Eagles will be looking for momentum when they take on the Panthers at Wainoni Park, after they lost an early lead last weekend and ended up losing 24-14.
The Keas will take on the Northern Bulldogs at home on Saturday. The Bulldogs produced a solid second half to overcome the Riccarton Knights 22-12, after they trailed 12-6 at half-time.
The Hornets travel to Crosbie Park to play the Knights after their loss against the Panthers. Both will be searching for their first win of the season before the Easter break after they lost half-time leads in their season-openers at the weekend.
New-look premiership down to six teams
The club rugby league competition enters its second round on Saturday with major changes to how it operates.
The premiership has six teams this season, Linwood Keas, Hornby Panthers, Eastern Eagles, Halswell Hornets, Northern Bulldogs and Riccarton Knights, after the Papanui Tigers and Celebration Lions couldn’t field premier teams.
The clubs will face each other three times across 15 rounds. Triple round-robin play finishes on July 22.
Said Canterbury Rugby League chief executive Malcolm Humm: “Four Massetti Cup rounds in May and June will feature a Friday night match under lights at Ngā Puna Wai. On Saturday, June 24, Ngā Puna Wai will host its inaugural ‘magic round’, with all three premiership encounters to be played simultaneously on the venue’s three rugby league fields.”
The six clubs fielding a premier grade team have entered a side in the ISC Canterbury Cup (premier reserves), joined by Papanui Tigers, Ashburton Barbarians, Shirley Hawks, Burnham Chevaliers and Greymouth Greyhounds in what will initially be an 11-team competition.
After one full round-robin, the top six teams will remain in the Canterbury Cup for the remainder of the season and the bottom five will recreate the third-tier division one, which returns for the first time since 2019.
All teams retain their points from the original round-robin and, following the split, will play each team in their respective grade again.
“In what promise to be among the most absorbing club matches of the season, two promotion-relegation fixtures are scheduled for August 5 (provided the teams from the lower grade accept the challenge),” said Humm.
“The sixth-placed Massetti Cup team at the end of the home-and-away rounds will face an invitational non-premier team with a place in the 2024 men’s premiership on the line, while the sixth-placed Premier Reserves team will play the top-placed division one side for a spot in the 2024 ISC Canterbury Cup.”
The women’s premiership starts on April 16, featuring reigning champs Linwood Keas, runners-up Sydenham Swans, Woolston Rams, Eastern Eagles and Burnham Chevaliers. Several appealing initiatives have been introduced for 2023. Humm said long-term objectives centre around increasing player numbers across all junior, senior and women’s competitions.
-Additional reporting Will Evans