Southern to defend title

Southern in action during semi-final play against Prebbleton at Mayfield last weekend. Photo Angela Cushnie.

Southern Rugby have a full squad of players ready and willing to defend their title in the Luisetti Seeds Combined Country Competition final this Saturday.

The Division 1 team takes on Southbridge at Hinds.

The match is set to be a celebration of resilience, with Hinds hosting the contest just two weeks after it was engulfed by floodwaters from the Hinds River.

Southern coach Jon Dampney said “the area has been pretty knocked about with the floods, we had a great turn out last week in Mayfield for the semi-final and it was great to put a few smiles on faces by winning for them last week and hopefully we can do the same again in Hinds.”

The full squad to pick from was a ‘‘pretty rare for this time of year, so we’re really looking forward to Saturday”, Mr Dampney said.

Southern made the final by beating Prebbleton 36-25, while Southbridge toppled North Canterbury’s Kaiapoi 26-18.

‘‘We dropped a game to Prebbleton by three points a few months ago which didn’t sit too well with the boys, but ever since then, they’ve been going really good”, said Mr Dampney.

Southern are the current holders of the Luisetti Seeds Cup after they could not be separated after 100 minutes against Glenmark Cheviot in 2019.

The Combined competition was not competed for in 2020 due to Covid-19, while Southbridge last won the title in 2017 by beating Rakaia.

Southbridge stalwart Michael Sheat says his sides been on the improve over the past few weeks and they were ready to take it to Southern,

“Ever since that Darfield game a few weeks ago, we’ve really started to hit our straps.

Some of the new young guys have really added something different for us this year and they’re finding their feet at this level which is great.”

Southern have also been on the improve including good wins over Darfield and Prebbleton in the knockout rounds.

Canterbury Rugby Union CEO Tony Smail congratulated both sides for making the final, as well as all the teams that have contributed to a successful Luisetti Seeds Men’s Combined Country Competition,

“I’m really looking forward to being at the final, we’ve had some great games this season with some very close games.

‘‘That’s a credit to the players and clubs that work tirelessly to create such a quality competition. Well done to everyone.’’

Sam O’Reilly will referee the match, which starts at 2.45pm, along with assistant referees Kalifa Faalogo and Eden Brown.

It will also be live-streamed on the Canterbury Rugby Football Union Facebook page.