Galbraith Shield club rugby
The 2012 Southland premier club rugby semi-finalists have been found.
Star's 38-30 win over Marist today ensured they grabbed the fourth spot that was up for grabs heading into the final round in the round-robin series.
Star join Woodlands, Blues and the Northern Eastern Barbarians who had already locked in play-offs places leading into today's games.
Pirates-Old Boys and Midlands were hanging on a Marist win over Star to keep their chances open.
However, a hat-trick of tries by second five-eighth Cardiff Vaege spurred the blue-and-whites on to the all-important win.
Star will now meet Woodlands in a repeat of the 2011 final in one semi-final on Saturday, while Blues and the Barbarians will go head-to-head in the other.
It will be the second time in seven days the two teams have met after they also squared off today at Rugby Park with Blues taking a 28-26 win.
First five-eighth Rhys Truelove had the opportunity to slot a sideline conversion to draw the game and earn a home semi-final but he pushed it wide.
In the third premier game played today, Midlands finished their season on a high with a 13-8 win over Woodlands.
It was not the result Woodlands were hoping for as they try and get some momentum going into the semi-finals.
Their strong early-season form still ensured they finished top of the points standings and they will be buoyed by the fact they will welcome in some heavy artillery in the form of Highlanders players Jamie Mackintosh, Jason Rutledge and Kade Poki.
Division two club rugby
By Don Wright
Midlands and Blues were both successful in their division two rugby games today ahead of their much-awaited clash next Saturday.
Blues (second) and Midlands (third) are both high flyers behind heavyweights Bluff in the competition.
There is a strong feeling that the winner of the Blues-Midlands clash will oppose Bluff in the Grand Final on August 11, although fourth-placed Wyndham posted a big 60-nil win today over battling Balfour Lumsden.
Leaders Bluff, coming off the bye, were as sharp as a tack after training on their bye day last weekend and were untroubled to dispose of visitors Otautau by a crushing 67 to five (11 tries to one) at the Port ground.
The young Wrights Bush team that caused a boilover win over Star last week, went within an ace of repeating against even higher ranked Blues (second) in a tense and close encounter that went right down to the wire.
Blues got home 14-9 but not before the gutsy visitors threw everything at them in the dying stages to sorely test the winners' defence.
"That's been the name of the game all season for us to defend grimly, but the line held again,'' successful coach Duncan Wait said.
Bad handling and poor lineout throws cost Wrights Bush dearly in the second half when it threw wave after wave of assaults on the Blues line but to no avail. Too often they let Blues off the hook at crucial times when they had field position and good go ahead ball.
Midlands took time to put hosts Woodlands away in a game that may have belied the 25-7 scoreline. Midlands clearly had the edge in pace out wide, even from second five, but could have employed that advantage to more telling effect.
The Midlands clash with arch rivals Blues is certainly arousing considerable interest as the competition winds down to the semi finals.
Balfour Lumsden manager Mike Burr sounded a note of warning when he said Wyndham was a "very fit and fast team'' in demolishing his side 60-0 at home. Fourth on the points ladder, Wyndham is a fraction under-rated and might yet make the final on 11 August. It is a team that can stretch any rivals with fast and expansive ploys.
Pioneer could yet sneak into the last four, especially after its clear cut 31-12 defeat of western Southland visitors Riverton today. Pioneer scored five tries to Riverton's two.
Division two Southland rugby results today Saturday 14 July were:
Marist 54 bt Albion Excelsior 14
Bluff 67 bt Otautaun 5
Star 29 bt Tokanui 20
Pioneer 31 bt Riverton 12
Wyndham 60 bt Balfour Lumsden 0
Collegiate 25 bt Central Pirates 10
Old Boys 39 bt Ohai Nightcaps 5
Blues 14 bt Wrights Bush 9
Midlands 25 bt Woodlands 7
Donald Gray memorial football
A Tobi Reid hat-trick provided a quality storyline for Queens Park's 6-nil win over Southend at Bain Park this afternoon.
Reid scored all three of his goals in the second half after the visitors found themselves leading just 1-nil at the break after a score to skipper Mark Pearson.
Reid's first goal was a beauty, a thundering volley from the left boot which gave 'keeper Chris Panting little chance.
His second had an element of luck with a Southend defender blocking Panting's line of sight, but the ferocity of the right-footed shot showed some nice balance.
Reid's hat trick came just before fulltime when he got a header to an accurate cross from Matt Burgess.
Southend were unlucky not to get the ball into the net, with James McFelin and Jordan McIntosh both missing out after getting into good scoring positions.
In other results, title-favourites Old Boys maintained their five point lead in the competition with a 4-nil win over the Youth Academy, while Waihopai beat Thistle 1-nil at the ILT Turf.
Some determined riding by a the breakaway bunch saw Max Anderson hold on to win today's round of the Cycling Southland winter road series from his fellow escapees Shirleen Rollo and Amy Marshall.
The trio came in two minutes ahead of the break bunch in a time of 1hr 31min at the end of a 52km handicap race on the Woodstock circuit near Invercargill.
Forty-six riders started the race with 25 minutes seperating the front of the race from the end.
Most of the riders managed to avoid some late rain and were treated to light winds, although they were challenged by some mud on the roads at the back half of the circuit.
The scratch bunch broke up partway through the race leaving Pieter Bulling to power ahead on his own.
Freshly home from the United States where he has been riding with the New Zealand development team, Bulling defied the jet lag to record the fastest time with a 1hr 14min effort.
Only last week Bulling was fourth in a prestigious twilight criterium in the United States.
- © Fairfax NZ News