Battle for Hamersley Cup semis intensifies

Calculators could become an essential tool for Hamersley Cup coaches in semifinal contention with two rounds left in the senior rugby competition before the knockout stage.

Tomorrow there are two crucial clashes that will go a long way to deciding the top four semifinal slots, with five teams still in with a chance.

Mackenzie look set to keep their noses in front as they face bottom-placed Geraldine.

In fact, Mackenzie will be chasing a four-try bonus point to seal a home semifinal.

Waimate are second, one point adrift of the Rams on 40, but face defending champions Celtic in Timaru, who in turn are one point behind them.

Whoever wins that game is almost guaranteed a spot in the top four.

Waimate won their first round encounter 20-17 at home so there is little to separate the sides.

Harlequins are fourth on 35 points, one ahead of Pleasant Point, who led after the first round.

If Pleasant Point, who had made a flying start to the season, lose, their chances of qualifying become very slim.

Bonus points could also prove crucial for a loss within seven points or four tries as competition is that tight.

The top three sides have all won eight from 12 games, while Mackenzie sit at the top after having two draws against Harlequins.

They have however struggled for bonus points with five, while Waimate have eight, Celtic and Harlequins seven each.

Pleasant Point have little wriggle room as their final round robin game is against Waimate, another tough opponent, while Harlequins have the relative luxury of Geraldine.

Celtic should also take the points against Old Boys but Mackenzie face a tough opponent in Temuka, who on their day have been very good but have also dropped a couple of games they should have tucked away.

With those permutations tomorrow's games take real significance in what has been the most competitive and interesting competition in a decade.

The semifinals see the top ranked side host second placed team, with the winner through to the grand final.

The loser of that game faces the winner of the playoff between third and fourth.

If the teams are tied there are a series of steps to separate them.

The Timaru Herald