Wyndham-Waikaka showdown looms
The Waikaka and Wyndham match is shaping up as the game of the round in Southland's division-one club rugby competition on Saturday.
Waikaka will be defending the Wallis Shield and their unbeaten record in 2014 but, as coach Peter McIntosh pointed out, "this week will be a true marker of how well we are travelling".
The green machine have clinically put together bonus-point wins over Drummond Limehills Star and Pioneer, with their forward effort excellent, set piece solid and rolling maul hard to stop. Wyndham demolished Pioneer in round one, and gained an extra bonus point for finishing within seven points of Star (26-22) in the crossover match last week. Manager Lyndon Dynes reported: "The boys all fronted up, and took a lot of confidence from the day, both teams blew tries, and the win was within our grasp."
Captain Tim McRae had a big game at No 8, as did lock Andy Howe.
Ohai Nightcaps will be hoping to gain their first competition points on Saturday when Waikiwi come to town.
Ohai were well beaten by Edendale, but were more than competitive in their 32-19 loss at Mataura last week. Coach Kurt Molloy said his team were yet to break out of pre-season mode.
"We need more numbers at training so we can properly practise our set-piece and we need to improve our discipline at the breakdown. We will come good though."
No 8 Willy Broughton returns from injury this week and fullback Braidon Cochrane is expected back in the next couple of weeks."
Waikiwi are also looking to improve after scoring a scruffy 12-6 win over Mossburn last week.
Bluff will start clear favourites on their home turf against Mataura, despite the visitors having also accumulated maximum competition points. Mataura's veteran prop Paul Roberts doesn't have anything left to prove in his career but a huge effort from him is required if they are to compete with Bluff. Riversdale have home-ground advantage over an Edendale team that pushed Bluff right to the wire last week before going down 26-17. Riversdale coach Garth Lindsay said handling errors and ill-discipline at the breakdown were factors in their loss to Tokanui last week.
The Pioneer front row should consider sabotaging their team bus on Saturday morning, because the Te Anau scrum is in ominous form. lthough, Te Anau were not totally convincing last week. Some of the back play was messy and they were lucky to score their bonus-point try on the stroke of full time after the ball came in contact with the referee.
Last year's star player Neamea Bari arrives in town this week to join his mate Rusi Vuruye in the second row. To add to Pioneer's woes, Ray Hemi also returns to the pack.
Mossburn and Drummond Limehills Star are both desperate for a win. Mossburn dominated Waikiwi in every facet of play last weekend. It was only dumb option-taking that prevented them from winning. Although DLS were comprehensively beaten 36-10 by Te Anau last week, there were some positive signs, namely their willingness to scramble in defence.
The crossover game this week will be at Tokonui against Pirates Old Boys. Tokanui beat Riversdale 19-3 at Gore on Friday night and backed that up with a profitable club fundraiser on Saturday. The Tokanui squad helped manage, and also took part in, trail bike riding for their club fundraiser. Having 350 bikers take part was an excellent result considering the wet weather.