Changes of fortunes for club rugby finale

MATT MARKHAM
Last updated 11:00 28/06/2013

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What a difference a week can make.

Seven days ago, Lincoln were marked as favourites to win this year's Country combined rugby final against defending champions Southbridge.

The persistent rain that fell in the days leading up to last Saturday looked set to play right into the favour of the Lincoln side, who with their effective forward pack and ability to play the game in tight quarters looked the most suited to the wintry conditions.

But due to snow, and then flooding in Southbridge the match was deferred.

Initially it was set to be played on Sunday, but with no respite in the weather the decision was made to shift the pinnacle of Canterbury country rugby to tomorrow.

Cue the Southbridge smiles, and the shift in favouritism.

While they are no flat track bullies on the wet ground, it is well known that Southbridge are at their most brilliant in dry conditions.

With a slick backline featuring some talented players, they have caused major issues for opposition all season, but when dragged into the ruck and maul style of game they have at time appeared vulnerable.

Proof of this was found early on in the competition where, after waltzing through their first handful of games with big wins, Southbridge were upset in atrocious conditions by Oxford who went on to do little in the remainder of the competition.

Lincoln coach Mike Rowe will be very wary of the threat posed to his side this weekend, and his task will be simple.

Lincoln need to draw Southbridge into the physical aspects of the game by keeping it tight and hoping they can get the better of their opposition up front.

Southbridge, on the other hand, will be looking for the opposite.

The flair and skill their backline possesses would be enough to bother any Metro division one team and allowing the outside backs to express themselves will be key to success.

Kick-off is 2.45pm in Southbridge.

In Metro, division one footy, the race for supremacy heats up this week as teams continue to sort themselves out in the second half of the season.

New Brighton up against Marist Albion at Rawhiti will be a key match with both teams picking up victories in the first round of the new competition.

High School Old Boys will take on Cup winners Lincoln University at Bob Deans and Sydenham and Linwood lock horns in the third and final match of the top half.

The bottom section of the competition is a little messy after the deferment of Christchurch and Sumner last weekend.

The match is expected to be played next week.

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Burnside and University share the top of the leader board and should both pick up wins tomorrow against Christchurch and Sumner respectively to cement their spot at the top.

Belfast are still in search of their first win of the season and they get their best chance this week when they take on Shirley at home.

Country Combined Division One Final:
Southbridge v Lincoln, Southbridge, 2.45pm. Our Pick: Lincoln by unders.

Metro Division One: All games 2.45pm
New Brighton v Marist Albion, Rawhiti. Our Pick: Marist by unders.
HSOB v Lincoln University, Bob Deans. Our Pick: Lincoln Uni by unders.
Sydenham v Linwood, Sydenham. Our Pick: Sydenham by overs.
Burnside v Christchurch, Burnside. Our Pick: Burnside by overs.
University v Sumner, Ilam. Our Pick: University by overs.
Belfast v Shirley, Sheldon. Our Pick: Belfast by unders.

- The Press

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