Dunedin dealt huge blow
Au took all season to get it right and restore Ben Herring’s confidence heading into an arduous season with Otago in the Mitre 10 Cup.
It came to play and comfortably dispatched Zingari which now has to play off in the invidious “massive spoon” contest against Pirates.
Who knows when that will be played?
Dunedin got the five points against Pirates to secure third spot and a semi this weekend against Harbour but, as a dress rehearsal, it was a nude frolic!
Kaik tipped over a curiously understrength Varsity outfit to claim a deserved fourth spot and a rematch this weekend.
Did Varsity throw this game because it was scared of the Southern pack?
Southern got five points from the Green Island game but it was not enough and it is consigned to the strangest competition known to mankind – the bottom five!
Harbour needed a good result over Taieri to confirm second and duly delivered with a powerful performance to send out the warning buoys.
Highlanders determine the outcome of semis!
I was predicting that the result of the first semi between Harbour and Dunedin would be too close to call but after reading an email from “JP” (Jon Preston) this morning he has certainly solved that problem!
The Highlanders have pulled Dunedin playmaker and goal-kicker Scott Eade out of the semi and into their squad as cover for their upcoming playoff games and here I was rather naively thinking that was Fletcher Smith’s role!
Dunedin, unlike the Highlanders, doesn’t have the luxury of such cover especially when announced on a Thursday morning before a 1pm game on a Saturday.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great boost for Eade and I can understand the Highlanders’ dilemma but this effectively gifts the game to Harbour.
I hope they have signed up Harbour chairman and owner of Chipmunks Lance Spence as a sponsor after this windfall!
The battle of the two most combative packs in town should be a highlight and the scrummaging duel alone should be worth the price of admission but, with Dunedin running a very inexperienced backline anyway, this decision withdraws most of the remaining oxygen.
I don’t really believe Varsity threw the game last weekend but possibly it didn’t try too hard.
If it is back to full strength it should have too much firepower for Kaik.
Fletcher Smith is on Highlanders duty but, such is its depth, Stephen Fenemor is an able replacement at flyhalf.
Big lock Dixon is under an injury cloud but the lineout is still strong.
It should get it done but the Kaik pack is going from strength to strength and, with inclement weather forecast, it could be closer than you think.
Who gave birth to this nonsensical comp?
So unbelievably the clubs voted at the start of the year (so they only have themselves to blame!) to play two more weekends to finish at the same time as the eventual finalists.
We already have Pirates and Zingari deferring their game till next weekend apparently to determine last place.
That has already been determined.
Pirates has won only one game – it’s not rocket science.
Both clubs are up in arms on whose fault it is for the deferral.
Don’t play it!
Taieri has been trying to pull out of its game against GI all week, citing no players.
I bet it would have players if it was in the semis!
The jury is out if Taieri will play – an ignominious end to a sad season for a club in crisis.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the end-of-season debrief – perhaps they’ll invite me as a neutral observer!
That aside, the clubs need to seriously look at this supposed two-week comp at the end of the season for the “also rans” and actually consult with their players and coaches and then, hopefully, come up with the sensible conclusion to bury it forever!
Have you heard about this?
Come semis time, it is always interesting to find out the two refs ranked as the best in town as they are traditionally handed a semi each with the best then getting the final.
It hasn’t been too much of a contest this year as the best two refs have been Adam Morrison and Mitch Will so off to the semis they did go.
But no, wait this hasn’t happened.
Stu Curran and Hamish Walker have got the job.
Apparently NZ Refs has decreed all the best refs have to attend some “witches’ coven” in Wellington this weekend.
The same weekend as most semis are on around the country – you’ve got to be kidding me!
Just proves the point – club rugby does not matter to the “pointy hats”.
Let’s hope we get through the semis unscathed.
Beware the wounded beast
“Reggie” from the Ministry of Funny Walks and Rugby has given me a spray re his handling, or apparently lack of handling, of the “Eti Tonga saga”.
He is telling me he was not involved and it’s all Southern’s fault, plus some mysterious ethereal group called the “MRCTC”.
Whoever it is, it has been an unmitigated disaster but, if you are blameless “Reggie”, I humbly apologise.
But let’s be honest, my version is a lot funnier.
A great servant
Dunedin lock and captain Mark Grieve-Dunn plays his 100th Prem game in the semi against Harbour this weekend.
He is not the world’s tallest lock – thus Cory Brown’s aversion to selecting him for Otago.
But if you look up “grafter” in the dictionary there is a picture of Mark there.
He wears his heart on his sleeve and carries the ball up more often than points scored against Pirates this year.
Good on ya, mate; you deserve all the accolades you get tomorrow – go well.
After beating Jimmy Reid mystifyingly easily last weekend to go 15 from 16 victories, on to Otago Rugby Union boss Richard Kinley this weekend, so another victory seems imminent.
As discussed, Varsity (12-) will get it done and go on to make it back-to-back victories.
Kaik will keep the students honest, however, and won’t go away easily.
Harbour, on the back of Eade bombshell, should make another final and on the back of the better backline.
Dunedin (12-) will attempt to play the whole game in the forwards but it’s a big ask.
Southern (13+) will destroy AU but it is peaking three weeks late, like a rather tubby greyhound.
The Spannerheads (13+) will dish up the Eels and that’s only if they front!
The late mail
The word on the street is that Lance (Abramovich) Spence has just paid for an extension on Brownie’s house for services rendered.
Only fair, old Hawks boys should stick together! Good luck to all four teams in the semis.
– Paul Dwyer