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Luisetti Seeds Division 1
Likely playoff contenders are starting to emerge after seven rounds of the Luisetti Seeds Combined Country Cup.
Defending champions Lincoln, who scraped into the finals last year, are almost assured of top spot in section two with a 10-point lead from Oxford, who still have a game in hand.
After a last-minute win against Waihora the previous week, Lincoln were back to their best on Saturday with a 29-3 bonus-point victory against Southern in Ashburton.
Oxford harmed the chances of fellow North Canterbury side Ashley, who dropped to fourth following their 43-25 loss.
Ashley looked out of the match, which yielded eight tries, at half time but battled back. However, the pace of the Oxford backs was too hot to handle.
Waihora took over third spot, building on their impressive showing against Lincoln with a 34-14 win against Ohoka.
Prebbleton’s chances of sneaking into the top four took a dive after a 32-20 loss against Burnham.
In section one, Methven held on to the lead with a 16-12 win against Darfield, who are now fourth with a four-point buffer back to fifth.
Southbridge, who did not make last season’s finals, held on to second by beating Dunsandel 27-6. Manager Chris McMillan says the team’s form has been pleasing, especially since losing their opening match against West Melton.
Southbridge have since been unbeaten and drew with Methven. Chris says they have a well-balanced squad, including depth on the bench. “We’ve kept a very similar squad together for the last four or five years and I think that’s starting to pay off.”
The backline has been improved by the acquisition of Canterbury sevens star Willie McGoon, who has been playing fullback. “It’s been a huge coup for us. When he comes into the line we’ve got plenty of pace and he’s feeding the wingers who are running outside him,” Chris says. With Kaiapoi and Glenmark faltering this season, Southbridge are keen to seize the chance for a finals spot, he says.
Surprise package West Melton are third after a nine-point win at home against Hampstead.
The finals look a long way off former champions Glenmark and playoff regulars Kaiapoi. Both climbed off the bottom of the table with their second wins of the season. Glenmark beat Saracens 19-6, while Kaiapoi beat Celtic 26-22.
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