Hamersley Cup Form XV shows up headaches
The Hamersley Cup senior club rugby competition hits the business end of the season with semifinals this weekend.
The format sees frontrunners Mackenzie host Celtic, while Harlequins head to Waimate in the sudden-death decider.
The big surprise was the slide of Pleasant Point from first round leaders to missing the top four.
There have been a number of players who have impressed over the second round and they have been included in the "Form XV".
In some positions the competition remained hot, especially the loose forwards and midfield, while there were plenty of frontrowers in contention.
In other positions the pickings were light, especially at first five and fullback, while the locking stocks were also thin.
Heartland coach Chester Scott will have a headache filling the key backline spots unless he converts some of the talented midfielders.
For the Form XV loosehead Matt Fetu has kept up his fine season while Ben Hewitson's return to Pleasant Point has been a bonus despite his side's overall form.
Harlequins hooker Nathan Tubb gets the nod as he is the best lineout thrower in the competition.
The two locks have gained their places after returning from injuries and getting fitter. Mackenzie's Andrew Scarlett joins Tui Tauelangi from Harlequins.
The loose forwards are the hardest to pick with several contenders for all three spots.
A number of talented loosies have also been called into the midfield over the season as stopgap measures.
The openside spot goes to Celtic's in form Nick Strachan while Harlequins No 8 Teki Veikune holds out team-mate Sam Vea and Celtic's Kali Latu, who could both lay a claim.
The blindside spot is also a close run thing with Celtic's Tom Fleming in good form but Temuka's Joeli Kotobalavu has found his best form late in the round and holds him out.
Waimate's Theo Davidson is an easy pick at halfback, but after him there is a big gap in terms of a backup for the representative side, with Scott Norton injured.
There is certainly also a shortage of a class first five in the competition.
The Form XV spot goes to Geraldine utility Jared Trevathan ahead of Waimate's Kurt Rooney and Will Hand of Mackenzie.
The midfield had a plethora of possibilities.
The Mackenzie pairing of Fa'aitu Tuamoheloa and George Folau have impressed for the table-topping Mackenzie side.
Harlequins Paula Fifita and Hau Kaumatule are another strong combination, though they have struggled to get time together with injuries.
Waimate's Jared Matthews is also a contender with some strong running.
In the end the experienced Tuamoheloa gets the nod along with Fifita, who is also a class act.
The consistency and ability to attack sees Waimate's Irish import Steve Macaulay get the nod.
It is a shame he is returning home before the Heartland season starts.
The front row substitutes include Mackenzie's Johny Andrews and Aaron McCall with Luke Brice at lock and Vea able to play any loose forward role.
The reserve halfback spot sees Temuka's Josh Rooney edge out George Lott of Mackenzie.
Celtic's Sekope Maea has looked impressive on his return from a serious injury but has only played about 100 minutes.
Matthews and Kaumatule make the balance of the 22.
As for coaches, Mackenzie's Justin Geary remains from the first round after getting his side to lift the Harris Cup, as competition leaders after the second round.
Barry Matthews joins him as he has managed to pull Waimate through to be contenders for the Hamersley Cup as well, after a slow start to the season.
The referee who has impressed most during the second round is the experienced Grant Day.
The Timaru Herald