Unbeaten Edendale will be hoping not to trip when they host the division one final against Drummond Limehills Star tomorrow.
Edendale will start the game as warm favourites, but if the DLS team play to their potential they are capable of producing an upset. Edendale have a healthy respect for their opponents, but their confidence is high after comfortably beating the combined side 48-15 in round one and 46-3 just three weeks ago.
DLS will be clinging to the fact that they did compete well in the first 60 minutes of each of those games, before Edendale's superior organisation, fitness and skill were rewarded.
Despite qualifying in second DLS have been a bit inconsistent this year.
After their hard-earned 23-15 win over Waiau Star last week coach Shorty Riordan knows a better performance will be required against Edendale.
A smarter kicking game is a must, and a stronger presence at the breakdown is needed to avoid turnovers, and they can't afford to slip off as many tackles as they did on Saturday.
DLS should be able to hold their own in the set piece but keeping pace with the Magpies in general play has been a problem, so possession and territory will be key.
A strength of Edendale has been their composure. If a team has got stuck into them, then, under the guidance of captain Matt Medly, they have been able to "weather the storm and then create their own storm", as they did in their semifinal against Riversdale when they scored two tries in the last 10 minutes to win 19-13.
Medly has been been an inspirational leader this season; his fellow loosies Nathan Gutsell and Brad Whyte have also impressed. They will be fully tested if the DLS trio of Greg Laughton, Jesse Saunders and Grayson Hamilton bring their best form.
The battle of the first-fives, Jeroe Fodie and Dan McIlwrick, will have a significant bearing on the result. It will be who can steer their team around the park the best, and get their midfielders hitting the gaps.
Big Jeremy McLeod and the beautifully presented Dan Cockery have handled everything sent their way this year, but their opposites Jack Maguire and Willy Lake have the ability to bust them open.
Both teams have a solid second-row pairing, Karl Laurence is a leading try scorer for the Magpies, while Steve Brunell has been a standout for the Sky Blues.
The visitors will need to match Edendale's intensity from the kickoff, and to make the most of any opportunities they are given.
This is the third straight division one final Edendale has made, and after being beaten by Mataura in the previous two they will be desperate to finish the job.
- © Fairfax NZ News