The Premiers had 2 big wins over their opposition after the Easter weekend games. This has them placed at the top of the Premier table after 4 matches with 4 bonus point wins (winning with 4 or more tries).
Dunedin are also unbeaten and are in 2nd place, with Taieri in 3rd after drawing with the dangerous Harbour side, who will be a threat to the Top 4 this season.
While the Premiers will take confidence from their big wins so far this season, they are also realistic to know they have probably played none of the teams challenging for the top 4. The following 3 weeks will give a good guide as to where they stand with consecutive matches against University A, Dunedin and Taieri (the 3 semifinalists along with us) from 2014.
On Thursday evening at Bathgate Park they completely out muscled and out ran Alhambra-Union and led 48-0 10 minutes into the 2nd half. They then lost total concentration – taking the foot completely off the pedal – and allowed Alhambra-Union to run riot scoring 31 unanswered points. The final score was 48-31.
On Monday afternoon they played Green Island at Miller Park, and while some key players were missing they still dominated in all facets of the game leading 26-0 at the break before again easing off in the 2nd half to win 40-12.
The game plan is still developing, however it is encouraging to see the emphasis on 15 man rugby, with forwards running strongly, creating go forward ball and then the backs moving the ball quickly into space. When all of the x-factor players return to the backline, it will be entertainment plus for the supporters if they maintain the patches of great rugby they have shown for an entire match.
Players to shine early in the season have been Adam Knight on the blindside flank, who looks bigger and stronger this year, while also showing good speed. Ricky Riccitelli has displayed his strong in close running skills always breaking the advantage line – good enough to be signed up for the ITM Cup – unfortunately for Hawkes Bay and not Otago!
The player to really catch the eye has been Mika Mafi our powerful no 8. His power and work rate has been a key component of the Premiers game plan, he is enjoying running wider off the ruck. His new found ability to offload after breaking the line and link with support players has added a dimension that can see him progress to the Otago team in 2015.
In the backs Ryan Tongia has shown his elusive running skills from fullback and has already scored 6 tries in 3 games. Josh Walden is clearing the ball well at halfback and setting the backs away well. Combinations are still developing through the backline however the potential is certainly there to be seen.
The Premiers are playing University A at the University Oval this Saturday at 2.45pm.
Other results from the Weekend:
02nd April Results:
Taieri 31 v Harbour 31 ; Southern 48 v Alhambra-Union 31 ; Dunedin 30 v Green Island 27 ; University 35 v Pirates 21 : Zingari-Richmond 28 v Kaikorai 22.
06 April Results:
Taieri 57 v Zingari-Richmond 24 ; Southern 40 v Green Island 12 ; Dunedin 24 v University 23 ; Harbour 55 v Kaikorai 17 ; Alhambra-Union 39 v Pirates 23.
Report on the Green Island game from the Otago Daily Times:
For the second game running, Southern had a four-try bonus point in the bank by halftime.
And for the second game running, it took a wee nap in the second spell.
It led 26-0 at halftime but Green Island showed some character and, with the wind at its back, got a larger share of the ball.
But the damage had been done in that opening 40 minutes.
Southern seemed to score every 10 or so minutes.
Bryce Hosie opened the scoring with a try in the left corner which was was the product of five or six phases and a wonderful team effort.
Jono Hayes, on debut, scored in the other corner 10 minutes later and then Ben Patston sold a dummy to dot down 10 minutes before the break.
The bonus-point try came right on halftime when Adam Knight scored following some sustained pressure.
Green Island responded with two tries through loose forward Sam Finau to close the gap to 26-12, but Southern dominated possession in the last 15 minutes and used its big forward pack to mount pressure on Green Island.
Hosie scored a second and impressive No 8 Mika Mafi also scored.
Fapene Popoali’i got a late consolation try for Green Island.