THE first phase of the Southland club rugby season came to its conclusion last weekend after each of the seven premier clubs played its sixth game.
The competitions have now had their pre-planned restructure for the second half of the season. The existing competition points in the premier grade have been replaced with a fresh points system which has the leader taking 10 points into the next round, the second team will start on eight points, the third team on six points and so on.
To free people up for Queen’s Birthday Weekend, two premier games and most of the division one games are to be played tonight. Woodlands finished the round in third and will play Star at the Les George Oval at 7pm. Blues begin in fourth, two points ahead of its opponents tonight at the Gore Showgrounds the Eastern Northern Barbarians.
The third premier game between Marist and Pirates-Old Boys (POB) will be played on Saturday at Rugby Park as part of the Marist Club’s centenary celebrations.
POB won its sixth game in a row last Saturday, beating Blues 24-17 at Balmoral Dr in Invercargill. In the greasy conditions, POB looked the more likely side to score but its poor ball security at the breakdown meant none of the early opportunities were converted.
Midway through the half, second five-eighth Jaye Thompson showed some good footwork to score beside the posts. Blues levelled the scores soon after with a good set-piece try. POB regained the lead when openside flanker Ben Keenan scored in the corner, both teams then traded penalty goals before half-time.
Pirates spent the first 15 minutes of the second half throwing everything at the Blues’ line, but a massive defensive effort meant POB came away with just a penalty goal. A third Greg Dyer penalty goal from long range pushed the lead to 21-10 but, when Pirates were reduced to 14 men for the last 10 minutes, Blues went on attack and eventually scored a converted try with two minutes remaining.
In the intense final play of the game, POB was awarded a breakdown penalty, which Dyer converted. POB hooker Josh Harwood was man of the match, while midfielder Jaye Thompson and lock George Hall also impressed.
Marist finished the round in second position after beating Star 27-12 on a muddy Waverley Park. This was a good win for Marist, which was without Scott Eade. Star finished the round in sixth but it was an improved effort from the team on Saturday with Jordan Stewart and Greg Pleasants-Tate back from injury.
Woodlands finished the round in third and will take six points to the next phase after beating the Eastern Northern Barbarians 16-14 at Balfour. Riverton had beaten Balfour 9-8 in the division two curtain-raiser match.
Midlands had already lost to the six top clubs and had a bye on Saturday. Midlands will drop to division one for the second half of the season.
In the division one competition, Ratah Kite played his 300th game for Collegiate when the team beat Waikiwi 23-10. Jeremy McLeod was also playing his 150th game for Edendale in his team’s 52-12 win over Mataura. Albion won the battle of Gore, 17-10 over Pioneer.
Mossburn spoiled Grant Taylor’s 150th game for Te Anau when Mossburn beat its neighbours 26-19. This weekend Mossburn is also celebrating its club centennial with one of the highlights being a game against Waikiwi on Saturday.
Results – Premier: Marist 29 – Star 12, Pirates Old Boys 24 – Blues 17, Woodlands 16 – E N Barbarians 14, Midlands a bye.
Division one: Waikaka 16 – Riversdale 10, Mossburn 26 – Te Anau 19, Collegiate 23 – Waikiwi 10, Wyndham 20 Edendale 52 – Mataura 12, Albion 17 – Pioneer 10.
Division two: Riverton 9 – Balfour Lumsden 8, Wakatipu 26 – Woodlands 0, Star 22 – Marist 7, Blues 28 – Pirates Old Boys 10, Bluff 69 – Bush Pirates 15, DLS a bye.
Draw – Premier: Galbraith Shield: Barbarians v Blues, 7pm Thursday, Star v Woodlands, 7pm Thursday, LG Oval, Marist v POB, Saturday 3pm.
Division one: Ack Soper: Midlands v Tokanui at Limehills, Waikaka v Wyndham, Edendale v Riversdale. All games at 7pm tonight (Thursday).
Gerald Dermody Shield: Collegiate v Pioneer, Wednesday at LG Oval 7pm, Albion v Mataura, Wednesday, Gore SG, 7pm, Mossburn v Waikiwi, 3pm Saturday.
Division two: Pool A: Waiau Star v Ohai Nightcaps, Otautau, Saturday 3pm.