Scarlett in race to play for South Canterbury
The South Canterbury Heartland rugby team will be sweating on the availability of captain Andrew Scarlett ahead of its crucial final round-robin game against East Coast in Ruatoria tomorrow.
Scarlett is battling illness and was bracketed in the starting lineup with Luke Brice.
Besides the uncertainty over Scarlett, the starting team is unchanged from the side which hammered King Country 56-29 in Timaru on Saturday.
The only change comes on the bench where blindside flanker Carlos Tuiloma returns after missing last week, while Old Boys halfback Tyrone Hill will wear the No 22 jersey as back cover.
If results go against them, South Canterbury may require at least a bonus point to secure a Lochore Cup semifinal for fifth to eighth placed teams.
Chester Scott's team currently sits in sixth and a win against 10th placed East Coast could see them earn a home Lochore Cup semifinal.
Scott said he was hoping for a dry day, after his team had scored 86 points in the past fortnight.
He said despite East Coast's lowly standing they would be a threat, especially with a parochial home crowd behind them.
"The people in Ruatoria are very passionate and knowledgeable rugby people. It is part of their community because they are so isolated. It can feel like you are playing against the whole village."
Scott said his side's dramatic improvement in the past two games had come from having consistent player availability, a strong set-piece and a willingness to spread the ball wide on attack.
With usual halfback Sekope Maea out for the season after having knee surgery three weeks ago and Auckland loan player Sam Vaevae doubtful to play any further part this season thanks to a nagging hamstring injury, the inside halves combination of Theo Davidson and veteran Scott Norton look set to continue.
Scott said if his forwards could embrace the physicality and provide front-foot ball for his backs, he was confident they would earn a victory.
South Canterbury (from one): Matt Fetu, Nathan Tubb, Timaru Tafa, Andrew Scarlett/Luke Brice, Hayden Mitchell, Sam Vea, Nick Strachan, Kali Latu, Theo Davidson, Scott Norton, Tenari Saumani, John Peeters, Fa'aitu Tuamoheloa, George Folau, Liam Edwards. Reserves: Jonny Andrews, Aifala Taelega, Luke Brice/TBA, Carlos Tuiloma, Tristram Johnstone, Tanu Suavine, Tyrone Hill
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