Southland Boys' keen to end rivals' streak

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2014

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Otago Boys' High School have a remarkable 53-game winning streak in the Highlanders region first XV rugby competition but Southland Boys' High feel they can put a halt to it.

The two teams will square off in the 2014 final tomorrow in Dunedin.

Given Otago Boys' dominance in recent seasons, they will head into the decider as favourites. However, Southland Boys' coach Marty Smith said his players far from feared the rivals up the road.

"We're quietly confident actually, the boys are really believing in themselves now," Smith said.

Southland Boys' reached the final with a 34-17 win over Kings High, while Otago Boys' beat John McGlashan 55-0 in the other semifinal.

The two teams have met twice already this season. Otago Boys' won the first encounter 23-15 and the second 35-30.

They also met in last year's final where Otago Boys' grabbed a dramatic victory in Dunedin.

The Invercargill school led 21-7 at one stage but Otago Boys' clawed their way back and a try in the dying stages stole a 29-24 win.

Southland Boys' strength this season again centres around their forward pack, led by captain and prop Shaun Stodart.

Stodart is regarded one of the more promising young rugby prospects in Southland at the moment, as is halfback Liam Howley.

Lock Jack Capil has been another strong performer this season, while talented hooker Flynn Thomas is still eligible for the Southland under-16 team.

The winner of the final will play the leading team from the Crusaders region in a South Island final.

The winning team from that game would then be part of a top-four New Zealand secondary schools playoff tournament.

Meanwhile, after tomorrow's final, there is expected to be some debate about the future of the Highlanders first XV competition.

Otago Boys' and Kings High School have already said their preference would be to return to play in Dunedin club colts grades.

Concerns have been raised about the competition's lop-sided results and the travel demands for teams.

Smith preferred to wait until the end-of-season review to give his views.

The two options for Southland Boys', it seems, would be to continue with a Highlanders region competition or to play in Southland's senior division-two club competition, with teams such as James Hargest College, Menzies College, Central Southland College, Gore High School and St Peter's College playing in the Southland under-18 competition.

AT A GLANCE

What: Highlanders region first XV rugby final
Who: Southland Boys' High School vs Otago Boys' High School
When: Tomorrow, 1pm
Where: Littlebourne, Dunedin

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- The Southland Times

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