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Lusetti Seeds Country Rugby - Semi Finals Time
It is semi-finals time in Country rugby with Ellesmere and North Canterbury competitions set for exciting climaxes.
In Ellesmere the four usual suspect clubs have made the last four: Lincoln, Waihora, Southbridge and Darfield. That said, this competition is too close to call. Lincoln, which won the Coleman Shield last season, may start as favourites but it has had its own issues to deal with.
“We are continuing to battle injuries,” Lincoln co-coach Greg Lewis says. “Jason Pietzner is our latest injury. He may be out for us. Our depth is being tested.”
Lincoln’s 29-22 win over Southbridge the weekend before last was impressive. Yet it counts for little come semi-finals time. “We respect Darfield (their semi-finals opponents). We beat them in the round-robin but they are a good side and we know how teams can rise for the big occasion,” Lewis says. He says there is a great deal of resolve within the Lincoln side after losing the final of the Luisetti Seeds Combined Country competition.
“As a club we have had plenty of success in recent years and we are very determined to keep what we won last season (the Coleman Shield). We are not though looking any further ahead than Darfield this weekend.”
The other semi-final will see Waihora and Southbridge meet at Tai Tapu. Southbridge may have gone off the boil in recent weeks but have the experience to be able to peak at the right times. Waihora have had their moments this season and at home will be favoured.
In North Canterbury top qualifier Glenmark will meet Ashley in one semi-final while Saracens will be at home to Oxford in the other semi-final. Glenmark lost to Oxford 39-17 last weekend, stalling Glenmark’s recent good form.
Glenmark coach Jody Horrell says he is hopeful that last Saturday’s loss will be a wake-up call for his side. “We had been going along alright but we came unstuck. Maybe the guys were thinking about the semi-final already.”
Horrell says that his side has plenty of respect for Ashley. “We have played them twice so far this season and we are one win apiece. We know they are a good side and that they are having a good season. I am sure that the boys will be up for the match. It is now or never really.”
Glenmark will have all of their Country players available on Saturday and will be aided by playing at home. “We have some bruises from last weekend but hopefully by Saturday we should be fully fit,” Horrell says.
Saracens finished ahead of Oxford in the round-robin but the red and blacks have pulled out some big performances during the season. They may be favoured.
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