Bakermans' absence lifts Russley
Russley still have unfinished business from last season's Woodward Cup and the good fortunes of one of their opposition could play right into their hands on tomorrow's finals day.
Russley play top qualifiers Christchurch at Waitikiri in the tournament's semifinal but Christchurch are without No 1 Jordan Bakermans.
Bakermans is in South America as part of a New Zealand Golf development programme.
From favourites to win the title, Bakermans' absence evens up the contest hugely.
Former Canterbury representatives Karl Kitchingham and Peter McDougall have both been suggested as a possible replacement but The Press understands McDougall will plug the gap. Russley have a settled lineup, with Canterbury reps Harry Bateman and Owen Burgess teaming up with talented teens Michael McAuley and Regan Kilpatrick, and Canterbury Masters player Andrew Dufton. Former Canterbury player Mark O'Malley will also play for a Russley side who lost to Christchurch in last year's final in a playoff.
There's definitely no need to panic for Christchurch. Though they are without Bakermans, they halved their match 3-3 with Russley in September and Bakermans lost that day to Bateman.
They have Canterbury player in Tom Turner and the tournament's most successful individual, J J Love, as well as the well-performed and consistently competitive Phil Tuoro, Richard Reed and Aaron Pablecheque. Christchurch have been the team to beat all season, though without Bakermans, Russley narrowly take the favourite tag.
Russley manager Murray Brown said that label didn't sit well with his side.
"We were hot favourites last year and got pipped so we don't worry about those sorts of things," he said.
The other semifinal is also expected to be close. Home track advantage could be the deciding factor when Waitikiri take on Templeton.
Waitikiri have Jason Yoo, who was this week named in the Canterbury senior side and is expected to win his match for a handful of reasons.
One, he's at home, two, he's very good and three, Templeton have struggled at the top of the order all season.
What Templeton do have going for them is a very strong middle order which has carried them this far.
The winners will then meet in the competition finale tomorrow afternoon.
The Pollock Cup women's semifinals will also be played at Waitikiri tomorrow.
Coringa will likely prove too strong for Templeton in one match while the Russley-Waimairi Beach game will be much closer, though Russley probably have a slight edge and should set up what would be an exciting final against the in form Coringa side.
The Blank Cup semifinals will be played between Russley-Windsor and Templeton-Christchurch, while the Simon Cup semis will be fought out between Russley-Waitikiri and Templeton-Christchurch.