WOODLANDS, Marist, Pirates Old Boys and Star are all still in contention for the Galbraith Shield final heading into the last round of matches this Saturday.
Of the multiple possible outcomes for this Saturday, the most likely was Woodlands would finish off Marist, which would mean Pirates Old Boys would only require a bonus point from its match against Star at Surrey Park, Invercargill, to hold on to second place.
Last weekend Pirates Old Boys snuck past the Eastern Northern Barbarians with a 14-10 win. Pirates co-coach Ben McHugh said the puggy Surrey Park field was perfect for the Barbarians’ style of play.
“Their forwards rolled their sleeves up and had it over us in the first 40 minutes.”
The Babaas led 5-nil at half-time but Pirates gained some ascendancy in the third quarter and scored two converted tries.
Pirates forwards Ben Keenan, Hayden Hagerty and Craig Smith were major contributors to the victory, while hookers Josh Harwood and Tua Tuapati provided a quality one-two punch. First five-eighth Greg Dyer also played well.
Barbarians hooker Lachie McCall was effective in general play, as was blindside flanker Jacob Coglan. Fullback Rory Van Vugt was another top performer for the visitors.
Woodlands was already assured of its spot in the final prior to thrashing Star 54-7 at Waverly Park.
Blues have had a tough season but everything clicked last week when it beat Marist 29-22 at Balmoral Dr, Invercargill.
Blues co-coach Simon Frisby said it was the first 80-minute performance of the season. tight five were very tired after the game, they made some heavy carries.
“The boys were up for it, there was a good feeling before the match, after we’d had our best training run during the week. We’ve had a lot of bad luck this season, but the team have showed some great character.”
Referee Grant Dermody let the game flow, and the long passages of play made for a great spectacle.
Prop Ben Soper had his best game of the year; he made more than 20 carries into heavy contact, and scrummed well too.
Openside Jo McKinnell put in another top performance and No 8 Arese Boliko made a strong return to action after three weeks off, scoring two tries, one off the back of a tight-head scrum win, carrying three defenders over the line with him.
Frisby believed Boliko had the potential to play for Southland in the future.
Another Blues player who continues to push for higher honours was wing Brad Kooman.
Midlands was guaranteed to host the Ack Soper Shield Division One final in Winton against either Te Anau or Edendale.
Edendale needs to earn five competition points this Saturday on its home turf against Midlands to be assured of playing again the following week. Edendale was in good form after beating Te Anau 25-15 last week.
Midlands beat Wyndham 25-12 last week, while Riversdale beat Waikaka 15-9 in the dead-rubber match.
The three teams still in with a chance in the Division Two Gerald Dermody Shield were Pioneer, Waikiwi and Tokanui. Pioneer is favoured to beat Waikiwi on Saturday and Tokanui should progress past Albion.
Waikiwi knocked Mossburn out of final contention last week with a 31-14 win.
Drummond Limehills Star moved into second position in the CJ Soper Trophy after beating the competition leader Bluff at Limehills. The winner of the Waiau Star and DLS game this Saturday will advance to the final in Bluff.
Premier Grade: Galbraith Shield: Blues 29 Marist 22, Pirates Old Boys 14 Eastern Northern Barbarians 10, Star 7 Woodlands 54.
Division One: Ack Soper Shield: Midlands 25 Wyndham 12, Riversdale 15 Waikaka 9, Te Anau 15 Edendale 25.
Gerald Dermody Shield: Waikiwi 31 Mossburn 14, Wakatipu 17 Tokanui 39, Albion 5 Pioneer 64.
Division Two: CJ Soper Trophy: Blues B 7 Waiau Star 11, DLS 31 Bluff 17, Star B 16 Pioneer B 12.
Life Members’ Trophy: Midlands B 24 Woodlands B 24, Collegiate 46 POB B 12, Bush Pirates 5 Marist B 55.
Premier Grade: Galbraith Shield: Marist v Woodlands, Pirates Old Boys v Star, Eastern Northern Barbarians v Blues.
Division One: Ack Soper Shield: Edendale v Midlands, Wyndham v Riversdale, Waikaka v Te Anau.
Gerald Dermody Shield: Pioneer v Waikiwi, Wakatipu v Mossburn, Tokanui v Albion.
Division Two: CJ Soper Trophy: Pioneer B v Blues B, Waiau Star v DLS, Bluff v Star B.
Life Members’ Trophy: Midlands B v Marist B Woodlands B v Collegiate 46 POB B v Bush Pirates.