INJURY and player fatigue are two factors impacting on the condensed 2020 Galbraith Shield club rugby competition.
Last season’s finalists Blues and Star are struggling to field consistent line-ups, while Eastern Northern Barbarians has been operating on a tight player roster from the start.
Woodlands and Pirates Old Boys are coping best at the season’s halfway point and, not surprisingly, are in the lead.
Rotating starting line-ups and having quality players on the reserve bench will be a huge advantage for these two teams.
On Saturday is the first of three games each team will play in seven days.
Blues has a daunting assignment against Woodlands at home.
Woodlands beat Marist 55-15 last week at Centrepoint Park. Marist started best and led 15-nil after 20 minutes but it was one-way traffic from that point.
Marist will host Pirates Old Boys on Saturday; Pirates are in second position after beating Star 27-26 last week at Les George Oval. Star started well with a 19-7 lead, but the Hawks drew level after scoring either side of half-time.
Despite Star having a host of players injured and a dysfunctional lineout, it was ahead 26-24 after 65 minutes.
With three minutes to play, Hawks’ first five-eighth Greg Dyer kicked the winning penalty goal.
Dyer was voted man of the match, while lock Craig Smith and prop Ricky Guage were impressive against a good Star forward pack.
Hawks co-coach Ben McHugh said he was pleased with the win.
“Their big forwards had it over us in the first half but they ran out of steam. Our young fellas on the bench brought good energy into our game, we’re lucky we’ve got good depth.
“It worked in our favour playing the game out at the beach, our backs in the second half kept ball in hand and were dangerous on the dry ground.”
Former Southland Stag Mike Molloy played his first game of the season for the Hawks at fullback.
Star heads to the Gore Showgrounds on Saturday to play the Eastern Northern Barbarians. The Baabaas crashed the Blues’ Club Day last week, winning 40-12.
Midlands leads the highly competitive Ack Soper Shield division one competition after escaping with a 31-29 win against the winless Waikaka in Winton.
Riversdale is third on the points table after beating Te Anau 24-22 on Saturday. Wyndham beat near neighbours Edendale for the second time this season, 24-15.
In the division two Gerald Dermody Shield competition, Pioneer knocked the Mossburn Stags off the top of the table with a 32-12 win in Mossburn. Tokanui also remains a title contender after a 32-27 win against Waikiwi.
Drummond Limehills Star had a 33-19 win against Star B in its division two match at Drummond. DLS prop Troy McBride was in rampaging form.
Premier Grade: Galbraith Shield Rd 6: Eastern Northern Barbarians v Star, Blues v Woodlands, Marist v Pirates Old Boys.
Division one: Ack Soper Shield: Waikaka v Wyndham, Te Anau v Midlands, Edendale v Riversdale.
Gerald Dermody Shield: Albion v Waikiwi 2pm, Tokanui v Mossburn, Pioneer v Wakatipu.
Division Two: CJ Soper Trophy: Pioneer B v DLS, Bluff v Waiau Star, Star B v Blues B.
Life Members Trophy: Bush Pirates v Midlands B, Marist B v Collegiate, POB B v Woodlands B.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS
Premier Grade: Galbraith Shield Rd 5: Star 26 Pirates Old Boys 27, Woodlands 55 Marist 15, Blues 12 Eastern Northern Barbarians 40.
Division One: Ack Soper Shield Rd 4: Riversdale 24 Te Anau 22, Wyndham 24 Edendale 15, Midlands 31 Waikaka 29.
Gerald Dermody Shield: Wakatipu default to Albion, Mossburn 12 Pioneer 32, Waikiwi 27 Tokanui 32.
Division Two: CJ Soper Trophy:DLS 33 Star B 19, Waiau Star 50 Pioneer B 12, Blues B 17 Bluff 24.
Life Members Trophy: Woodlands B 16 Marist B 8, Midlands B 14 POB B 13, Collegiate 79 Bush Pirates 0.