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PGG Wrightson Division 1
It is quarter-finals time in the PGG Wrightson Combined competition this weekend with four intriguing matches for rugby fans to follow.
Lincoln will play Methven in Lincoln, Waihora will be at home to Kaiapoi, Glenmark will host Darfield, while Oxford will travel to Southbridge.
Lincoln is perhaps the favourite in the knock-out stages after a 25-3 win against Southern away from home last weekend. This was the first time in many years that the red and blacks had beaten Southern away from home and it was the perfect tonic ahead of the quarter-finals.
“We were already top qualifiers before the match and you so might have expected the boys to relax a little bit,” their coach Bob Kerr says. “Yet they didn’t and it is credit to them. They play very well and the fact that Lincoln hadn’t beaten Southern away from home was certainly a motivation for the side.”
One of the stars of the day was second-five Dale Eathorne, who had his best game of the season. After scoring seven tries in two games for the Ellesmere Colts recently, Dane Petheram was reinstated at full-back and he justified his selection with another good match.
“I was also very happy with the way our front-row played,” Bob says. “They are virtually a Colts front-row and they did very well. We have had (All Black scrum coach) Mike Cron out during the season and we have been fortunate enough to have a new scrum machine, courtesy of the Halswell Tavern. The hard work is now paying dividends.”
Bob says that Methven is a team that Lincoln has had trouble with in the past, especially away from home. “They are a strong physical side made up mainly of farmers and we know that they will be a real test at Lincoln next weekend.”
Although Lincoln lost to Waihora in the round-robin, Bob says that with hindsight this may have been a blessing. “I don’t think we cried over spilt milk, although it showed us that we needed to lift our standards.”
Meanwhile, Waihora will be favoured to beat Kaiapoi at Tai Tapu. They have shown that on the big occasion they are more than capable of raising their game.
The other two matches are harder to pick. Glenmark should be favoured at home to beat Darfield, although the red and blues have been one of the big improvers throughout the season and will be no easy-beats.
The Southbridge vs. Oxford match is also too close to call. Southbridge was beaten by Methven last weekend and how they bounce back from that will determine whether or not they will be too strong for Oxford. Southbridge should start the match as favourites.
Meanwhile, teams placed fifth and sixth in each section will play a round-robin for the Canterbury Supporters Club Trophy. Teams placed seventh, eighth and ninth in each section will play a round robin for the Plate competition.
Points from matches already played against the other two teams from their section will be carried forward. Over the next three weeks, they will play the three teams from the other section to complete the round robin.
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