Tussle at the top in premier grade

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Star player Jack Capil is tackled by Eastern Northern Barbarians player Jacob Coghlan at Oreti Park on Saturday. Photo: Debbie Fahey

THE points table is tight heading into the last round of Southland premier club rugby this Saturday.

The unbeaten Pirates-Old Boys (POB) team has booked a home ground semi-final, while four clubs are still in contention for the other three spots in the Galbraith Shield finals.

Blues, Woodlands and Marist are each on 15 competition points, while Star is on 10 points. Only the Eastern Northern Barbarians are out of contention on 9 points with one round still to play.

On Saturday, Star needs a four-try, bonus-point win and to deny Marist any competition points at Oreti Park. Blues will play POB at Balmoral Dr, while the Woodlands and Barbarians game will be played at the Les George Oval.

Last Saturday, the Barbarians earned a last-minute 28-27 win over Star at Centrepoint Park. Star’s ground at Waverley Park is rooted up from having its 21 junior teams and two senior teams practising and playing on it through the first half of winter.

Star first five-eighth Ben Pope was playing his 50th game for the club and kicked the game’s first penalty goal after four minutes. The Barbarians then dominated the next 30 minutes and scored 20 unanswered points.

Two converted tries from Star closed the gap to 20-17 at half-time. The second half was keenly fought; the Barbarians grafter Brenton Howden was leading his pack with distinction. The Babaas scored a try with 15 minutes remaining but there was still a flurry of points to be scored in extra-time.

Star impact player Junior Lafoga scored a converted try and Pope then put Star in front with a penalty goal. The Barbarians were not to be denied and, in the last play of the game, landed a penalty goal to take victory 28-27.

Star’s lock Jack Capil again showed why he has been called into the Stags training group, Capil’s young locking partner Mickey Woolliams is also proving his value in the south. Woolliams has two seasons of Mitre 10 Cup experience with Counties and played his first game for Star last week after a long injury break.

No 8 Jordy Stewart was again outstanding for Star, while teenage midfielder Micaiah Johnston-Brown showed he has a bright future in the game.

Blues beat Marist 40-26 at Les George Oval while POB beat Woodlands 32-16 at Surrey Park.

In division one’s Ack Soper Shield competition the four finalists are already known. Who will host the semi-finals is still up for grabs. Midlands beat Edendale 41-25 last week and can finish on top if it can win in Riversdale on Saturday. Wyndham, Waikaka and Edendale are the other three finalists. Riversdale ended Waikaka’s nine- match winning streak last week but is still out of contention, along with Tokanui.

In division two, Drummond-Limehills Star (DLS) is on top after beating Te Anau 15-7 on club day at Drummond. Lock David Beer played his 100th game for DLS after a long day at the club, starting at 10am coaching his sons Henry and Archie’s Rippa Rugby team.

Saturday’s draw. All games are 3pm unless stated otherwise:

Premier grade – Glabraith Shield: Marist v Star at Oreti Park, Barbarians v Woodlands at Les George Oval, Blues v POB.

Division one: Ack Soper Shield: Edendale v Wyndham, Tokanui v Waikaka, Riversdale v Midlands.

Gerald Dermody Shield: Albion v Pioneer, Collegiate v Mossburn, Waikiwi v Mataura.

Division two: CJ Soper Trophy: DLS v Star B at Limehills, Bluff v Wakatipu, Riverton v Te Anau.

Life Members’ Trophy: Marist B v Waiau Star at 7pm LG Oval Thursday, Blues B v POB B at 1.30pm.

Past Presidents’ Shield: Balfour v Ohai Nightcaps Otautau, Woodlands B v Bush Pirates at 7pm Thursday.

Saturday’s results:

Premier grade: Galbraith Shield: E N Barbarians 28 – Star 27, Pirates Old Boys 32 – Woodlands 16, Blues 40 – Marist 26.

Division one: Ack Soper Shield: Wyndham 12 – Tokanui 7, Midlands 41 – Edendale 25, Riversdale 14 – Waikaka 7.

Gerald Dermody Shield: Mataura 37 – Pioneer 5, Mossburn 19 – Albion 17, Waikiwi 19

Division two: CJ Soper Trophy: Riverton 20 – Bluff 12, Star 15 – Wakatipu , DLS 15 – Te Anau 7.

Life Members’ Trophy: Marist B 27 – Blues B 26, Waiau Star 23 – PIrates Old Boys 22.

Past Presidents’ Shield: Ohai Nightcaps Otautau 11 – Woodlands 5, Balfour Lumsden 48 – Bush Pirates 3.

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