The Premiers put on one of their best performances of the season outclassing Green Island 50-5, but the bonus point win was all in vain as the Magpies missed the semi-finals for the first time in many years.
To qualify for the semis the scenario was fairly clear – with us being 1 win from the 4th placed team – the Magpies had to beat Green Island (ideally with a bonus point), and competition leaders University needed to beat 4th placed Kaikorai. 3rd placed Dunedin were also within reach, but the chances of them losing to cellar dweller Pirates were very low.
The Magpies had the 4 try bonus point against Green Island within 20 minutes with forwards and backs running rampant on a firm Miller Park. The team led 33-0 at halftime 5 flag points were assured…..and all the team needed now was for University to maintain their form and beat Kaikorai.
The transistor radios were out and were tuned in to Dunedin’s local sports show. The rugby updates came through every 10 minutes…. Kaikorai 5-0…. Kaikorai 12-0 “what are University up to, don’t let them get their confidence up”…..Kaikorai 12-5 “good University have finally woken up”….Kaikorai 15-5…..University centre yellow carded….we hear Kaikorai are defending like their life is on the line. 20-5 at halftime to Kaikorai!! We hear that University have rested a few player for the match, “really- that isn’t helping us”!!?? But University are 10 points ahead on the table and can’t be beaten for top spot, why would they want to help us. Hopes are still there that University will stage a comeback.
No scoring in the 2nd half at the Bishopscourt with 10 minutes to play, hopes of the team and supporters start to fade even though Southern are cracking 50 against Green Island. University score a late try but Kaikorai win 22-10 and take their place in the Top 4, and deservedly so after beating Taieri, Harbour, Dunedin and University in recent weeks. They hadn’t lost a match in the second round since being well beaten by us! …..last hope we better check the Dunedin v Pirates score….54-14 to Dunedin. Disappointment!
The Magpies had a fantastic second round only losing to University in a very close encounter, but the four losses in the first round when the team suffered from injuries and a lack of form proved costly. The form they showed over recent weeks proved they were Championship contenders, and they will have to live with that frustration until 2017.
The top of the competition has been very even and the forced decision to play 16 weeks and miss 2 rounds, due to the ORFU Mitre 10 Cup wanting to have all players from the 23rd July, has hurt a few teams who missed playing opposition who they could deny points or easily gain points. Southern didn’t play Pirates and Dunedin twice.
Form would suggest another win against Pirates would be on the cards; the match against Dunedin would have been an opportunity to move past them on the table. But that is hindsight, and the team now realises that every game counts, and that we can’t rely on results in other matches going our way. The season format will be reviewed at the end of the season and possible adjustments made.
The Premiers now play in the Gainsborough Shield (5th -8th). We play Alhambra-Union (8th) next Saturday at Bathgate Park. $1000 prize money is on the line as an incentive, when the season has a feeling of being over.
University will play 4th placed Kaikorai and all Southern supporters will be interested in that result. 2nd placed Harbour play Dunedin in what shapes as an even contest. Matches will be played at the University Oval.