Top team Maheno set for shield clash with Old Boys

The fourth round of Citizens Shield games will take place tomorrow with top team Maheno (17 points) playing Old Boys (15) at Whitestone Contracting Stadium in a top-of-the-table clash.

Excelsior (0) will play Kurow (13) on the second ground at the stadium, while out at Weston Park home team Valley (13) plays Athletic Marist (5).

To make the season worthwhile there are two extra rounds to be played after the first round robin of fixtures. This allows the players to have more games and get sides into top form as the playoffs loom.

On August 1, Maheno will play Old Boys at Maheno, Athletic Marist will play Valley in Oamaru, while Kurow plays Excelsior at Kurow.

The following week Maheno plays Kurow at Maheno, Old Boys plays Valley at Whitestone Contracting Stadium, while Excelsior plays Athletic Marist, also at the stadium.

The four top teams will then head to the playoffs on August 15 and the final on August 22.

The two teams involved in the Citizens Shield final will not have players picked for the first representative game when an Otago XV plays a North Otago XV team in a night game at Maheno on August 21.

A week later, North Otago challenges Canterbury for the Ranfurly Shield, the first of six matches for the North Otago side.

Otago Country will be the opponent in Twizel, while other games will be two games, home and away, against both South Canterbury and Mid Canterbury.

North Otago selector-coaches Jason Forrest, Shane Carter and Barry Matthews will now have the task of selecting a representative squad.

This season there will be no loan players from outside the North Otago region, as in Heartland rugby, so more players from the North Otago club competition will get a look-in.

There are some big holes to fill, as more than 15 players from last year, when the side won the Heartland Championship, are not in the picture.

Gone are key players from last year such as Charles Elton, Josh Hayward, Woody Kirkwood, Clement Gasca, Mike Williams and Howard Packman.

The Old Golds, though, still have plenty of experience in Lemi Masoe (104 games), Ralph Darling (109), Robbie Smith (50), Sam Sturgess (32), Manulua Taiti (39), Matthew Vocea (33), Jake Greenslade (22), Hayden Tisdall (14) Adam Johnson (10), Lachlan Kingan (10) and Marcus Balchin (10).

 - Terry O'Neill






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