ODT – Paul Dwyer Column
Southern comfortably despatched AU and is tantalisingly close to the four, being just four points adrift of fourth-placed Dunedin.
AU’s season under coach Herring continues to unravel and it’s seven points out of eighth! Kaik predictably steamrolled an understrength Harbour outfit to hold on to third and Tony Chave and the “heavies” on the high veldt are dreaming of semifinal glory and all the money they’ve spent to get there!
GI got it done late over Zingers in the battle of the Highlanders reserves and now sits four points above its nemesis, Taieri – unbelievable!
Highlanders prop Ross Geldenhuys scored a double – he is a points-scoring machine and I hear he is the next president out at the Toolbox – justly deserved.
In the crucial game of the round, Dunedin got it done late over Taieri at the Elver Pit to remain in the four and with a reasonably straightforward run in, should feature in the semis.
They’ll be singing in the valleys, “the boyos” are back in town, echoes of Land of my Fathers are filling the streets.
Yes, it is here again. New Zealand’s only real test venue finally has a test after a two-year hiatus.
I was at the Auckland test two weeks ago and most of them didn’t know it was on – they were too busy paying the mortgage and putting in road toll booths!
Look out for our Welsh brothers this weekend.
Invite them home for tea, buy them a beer, make them feel at home.
It’s the least we can do now that they are about to go three-zip!
They’ll be easy to recognise: They’ll be in the scarlet, and most of them will be shorter, as befits their coal-mining heritage (there are no tall miners!).
So no excuses, make their stay a memorable one.
I hear traffic cop Hugh Tait for AU is a liaison officer for the ABs this week so he’ll be handing out lollies instead of tickets – makes a nice change! Otago Rugby president Des Smith organised Welsh chairman Gareth Davies to come on Rugby Chat at the “Meads Bar” last night so go on to the ODT website and have a gander at it.
Look out in your ODT tomorrow for the wrap around The Weekend Mix magazine, which is your how-to guide for the weekend
Follow the instructions and put it in your pocket; it guarantees your safety and entertainment for the weekend.
The maroon peril again
Just when you thought it was safe to go to club rugby again, those dastardly Southland coaches are back trying to steal more players.
They were spotted at the game between Southern and AU and they have their squinty, beady eyes on Magpies halfback Josh Walden, apparently.
I hear Liam Howley, their incumbent halfback, was at a raucous “Gumboot” (Invercargill) party last weekend, made his first tackle for the season and blew his knee! Josh Walden is playing some good code for the Magpies and is the favourite to start for Otago this year.
Coach Brown is yet to sign Josh so my advice to Cory is do it now! Speaking of Southland, its Country team was due to play Otago Country at Matak in Omakau next Wednesday.
Southland Country rang the Matak club on Wednesday night and cried off because of club semifinal commitments.
Phil Smart and the Matak boys have organised sponsorship, marketing, a street parade and a sausage sizzle and now it’s all off.
Not good enough; do we need to get “Trumpy” over here to build a wall?
The Otago-Southland relationship is at its lowest ebb ever and I know where the blame lies!
This can’t be right
The big Eti Tonga story continues in this dramatic tug-of-war between club heavyweights Harbour and Southern.
The story so far in the sordid tale of greed, twists and turns, skulduggery and startling revelations …
So big lock Eti Tonga has been up till this year a staunch Hawks player.
At the start of this year, Magpies player agent and recruiter extraordinaire Tim Belcher chased Tonga with wads of cash to entice him over to the Magpies, as if their pack wasn’t big enough! He succeeded and Tonga signed for Southern in pre-season.
Lance (Abramovich) Spence, of the Hawks club, with the biggest chequebook going around, put his foot down and back to them he went, pockets jingling. Now, incredibly, he is back at Southern I hear after a compulsory stand-down period.
So the story goes he hasn’t been happy at Harbour and is not getting on with the coaches.
How can that be?
The coach is never there.
But he could be turning out for the Magpies this weekend but watch this space – the story has more legs!
The other bits
Apparently it cost $25 to attend the warm-up game between the Highlanders and the Crusaders yesterday.
Seems extreme to me. Either “Jacko” is short of funds for North Otago’s upcoming trip to Alaska or the Highlanders’ sponsorship dollars are short of budget – someone please explain.
Had an away trip to the Elver Pit on the Taieri at the weekend and an unbelievably pleasant experience. Dunedin won, of course, which helped, and Eel rednecks were in fine form on the sidelines. Just a thought: “How is the mid-season change of coach working out at Taieri?”
Speaking of that, was big “Eric V” spotted at a Spannerhead practice recently?
I’ll report next week after in-depth research how the recently appointed “Welcome Back Kotter”(Jim Thompson) is doing running the “Refs Association” in his stunning return.
Destroyed “Cammo” from the Speight’s Alehouse to get my season back on track – but the only loss for the season two weeks ago still rankles.
Up against Murray Kirkness, the weekday editor of the daily rag in Auckland – The New Zealand Herald, I think it’s called!
He used to be editor of the real paper (the ODT) but as you can see in the photo below, he has been dragged into the seedy underbelly that is Auckland.
That said, I win in a canter.
By far the toughest game of the round is the clash of “Plainsmen” Green Island and Taieri at the toolbox and it’s nearly to close to call – perhaps Eels (12-), especially if Geldenhuys is on the steel bird to Africa.
Kaik (13+) will be too strong for Zingers at altitude on the high veldt.
Southern (13+) should declare over Pirates at the yardarm.
Varsity (13+) is too strong all round for Harbour in the top-of-the-table clash as the Hawk lads are a game away from full strength.
Dunedin (13+) should consolidate fourth spot with a comprehensive win over the struggling Onions from AU.
The late mail
Ryan Hammer took the field for the Eels against the Sharks in the second half to rapturous applause.
I thought he was out for life after getting injured three years ago. He didn’t look too bad in his first gallop since then.
I hear the rest of the family is now “crocked”, as father Johnny is on crutches and brother and fellow halfback Kurt is also hurt.
What is Mrs H feeding them on out there – the “turnips”??
Remember to get along and watch some club footy at 2.15pm before the test tomorrow.
– Paul Dwyer