Harbour proved too strong for Southern down at the container terminal to remain two points in front of Varsity at the top of the table.
One of the anomalies of the draw is that these table-toppers don’t play each other in the first round – bizarre!
Southern continues to cascade down the table and now sits seventh.
Kaik destroyed an under-strength Taieri outfit to catapult back into the four.
I predicted last week Varsity would win big over Zingari but at 137-zip I didn’t quite mean that – more shortly.
Hold the phone, stop the presses, reprint the front page, AU has won a game albeit at the expense of Pirates but its still a “W” in the column.
To Ben Herring, the coach, I unreservedly apologise for the amount of “dining out” I have done on your winless streak.
Apparently the AU heavies bought Ben drinks all night.
The other big news of the weekend is that GI is now sixth in the comp after thrashing Dunedin at the Toolbox.
High-flying Dunedin, which is now out of the four, came up a lonely second to a fired-up Spannerhead outfit – great work lads.
The media beat-up
To all those Fairfax media hacks who have been spouting uninformed dribble since Zingari’s big loss, please do some work before announcing our comp is in turmoil.
As for the “Savoury Scone” from the Southland Times (does anybody read it?) announcing we should have a joint competition with Southland – do me a favour!
You’ve taken all our players this year, what else do you want?
Let’s put some perspective around this rather large loss by Zingari at the weekend.
The injury toll around some of the prem sides this year has been astronomical.
Pirates was down 16 players causing its issues.
Southern was down 12 before the season started.
Taieri had backs playing in the forwards at the weekend. Zingari lost its whole backline prior to playing Dunedin three weeks ago and it has only got worse since then.
We should be looking at the conditioning of the players rather than cancelling our competition.
The smaller clubs just can’t handle big injury tolls.
When Green Island lost to Taieri by 120 points two years ago and by 90 to Harbour last year, the same old spurious diatribe by media hacks was trundled out.
Not enough players, too many clubs – yawn, yawn, yawn!
GI sits sixth this year and beat a supposedly “top club” by 40 at the weekend.
When the Sunwolves were beaten by 90 two weeks ago did they call for their expulsion?
They won the next week! Blow-outs happen – take a deep breath and let’s see how the season unfolds.
Make no mistake – we are running a good comp here and be rest assured Varsity is a good side and it wins it all this year in a canter so let’s not forget that.
Here endeth the lesson!
Speaking of injuries
So we’ve lost Hayden Parker to a season-ending knee injury and now Otago halfback Josh Renton is gone to a similar injury.
And before you hang Eels fullback Mitchell Scott for the foot trip (and it wasn’t a good look, but a great photo!), the injury happened just prior to that.
So what does Otago coach Cory Brown do now?
Well he has the incumbent flyhalf to call on in Fletcher Smith.
Back-up looks thin but probably Josh Ioane from Southern and Josh Casey from the Eels when he gets back in from Spain.
(Is Josh the only name for footy players these days?)
Halfback contenders are probably Kaide Whiting from Varsity and Josh Walden from Southern – I will keep you informed.
Open letter to Paul Grant
I understand the big No 8 is back in town, has signed for Otago and is hoping to pick up a Super contract for next year.
He’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic, but he just needs to get it done!
I understand the union is not putting any pressure on him regarding which club he plays for.
I also understand he won’t be available to play till June.
Now Paul I know you previously played for Varsity and Kaik is splashing the cash but mate you need to consider these options. Pirates and Zingers need you mate.
I have no preference but please grace one of them with your presence – you won’t have to buy a beer all year and next as well probably!
Mate, I hear you are living in Mornington and, in case you didn’t know, so is Zingers.
I appeal to your well-rounded South Otago sense of fair play.
Good on ya, mate.
The form XV
15 Cama Poasa (AU), 14 Gavin Stark (V), 11 Jerome Harimate (H), 13 Legin Felix-Hotham (AU) (he got in on name alone!), 12 Danny Van der Voort (K), 10 Ben Miller (T) (K), 9 Josh Renton (K), 8 Dillon Hunt (V), 7 Mark McCutcheon (GI), 6 Naulia Dawai (H), 5 Jared Williams (P), 4 Josh Dickson (V), 3 Donald Brighouse (D), 2 Ricky Hollamby (GI), 1 Ross Geldenhuys (GI).
Comings and goings
Johnnies being a private school of a certain standing does not lower itself to use the word ‘‘coach” – how demeaning. I see Mike Idour is the “team director” of the first XV.
In the ODT tipping comp, the “Godfather” of Eels rugby Mike Casey actually picked Kaik to beat Taieri – how low can this club get?
I hear Mike Kerr, the sponsorship guru from the Highlanders who is prone to hyperbole, was attacked by a seven grill shark while surfing.
I am reliably informed an injured jellyfish accidentally rubbed against his leg.
I see the soccer lads were “hamming it up” in the ODT the other day claiming their reffing numbers have grown exponentially.
They forgot to mention their prem and prem II refs actually get paid and not badly either!
I think I’ll discuss this with ref head honcho “Harty”this weekend, but I have a problem with which ones we would pay?
Also, the word on the street is Kyle Harris, the NZ Colts and former Kaik player, has finally graced the paddock with a Magpies jersey on – I thought he’d died.
Even with the upsets, Tim Belcher from the Magpies didn’t get close – dare I say it the streak is becoming boring.
The comp sponsor, mein host from Speight’s Bar Mark Scully, is actually demanding to give out a meal voucher!
Up against Marty McArthur, the club captain of the Eels – now there is a man under pressure if half the rumours emanating out of the club are true!
So yes the streak will continue.
The Broncos (13+) go two from two over the hapless Zingers lads at the Pony Pit.
Surely the Sharks (13+) bounce back at home over Pirates.
Varsity (13+) too big, too strong for Kaik at home. Southern (12-) too big up front for the resurgent GI boys plus a few of its injured list are fronting.
Harbour (12-) flies all the way to the Eelpit, new passports under its wings, and still sits on top at the end of it.
The stars are aligning in our favour over the Crusaders.
The word is their flight was turned back due to strong winds and they bussed down yesterday afternoon.
Let’s hope they had three punctures and a flat battery and got in at 3am!
Go the Highlanders!
– Paul Dwyer