With the Hawkins Metro Premier Comp now split #WeAreCanterbury casts an eye over the head to head match ups.
Christchurch have been bolstered with Crusaders Tim Perry and Will Jordan set for starts at Bob Deans against HSOB while Oliver Jager will come off the bench for New Brighton at Rawhiti Domain against table toppers Lincoln University. Ben Enoka will notch up his 200th first division match for Marist-Albion as they take on Shirley on Burwood Park.
NEW BRIGHTON (5th) v LINCOLN UNIVERSITY (1st) at Rawhiti Domain
New Brighton won 6, 1 draw and lost 4, and finished on 32 points: Lincoln University won 9, lost 2, with a total of 48 points
Lincoln got off to a flyer with a 46-20 victory way back on the opening weekend at Lincoln
New Brighton have done it the hard way needing to win their last four matches to make it to the Top Six. Last year’s finalists didn’t have the best start to 2019 but are hitting form at the right time and will hope for a vocal crowd to help get them across the line against the defending champions.
Lincoln Uni had the mid-season blues losing a couple of matches, including the DCL Shield which their hosts now hold, although still did enough to qualify top-of-the-table and again will be one of the favourites to be there for the big dance.
OLD BOYS (4th) v CHRISTCHURCH (2nd) at Bob Deans Oval
Old Boys won 6, dropped 5, with 33: While Christchurch finished just 1 point behind Lincoln on 47 after 10 wins and just the single loss.
First Round result saw Christchurch with a comfortable 35-13 victory at Christchurch Park
Old Boys have had an up-and-down season, but they’re arguably one of the most improved sides from 2018. Having lost three of their past four will go into this one as underdogs, but every match starts at 0-0.
Christchurch could be the team to throw a spanner in the works and stop Lincoln from claiming another Premiership. The red-and-blacks have been beaten once only all season and boast the best defence in the competition.
SHIRLEY (6th) v MARIST-ALBION (3rd) at Burwood Park
Shirley claimed 6 scalps and dropped 5 games to finish on 32 points while Marist-Albion won 7, lost 4, and were rewarded with 37 points.
Their first-round clash saw Shirley sneak home in a tight 21-15 win at Burwood Park, although that was right back on opening weekend
Shirley will make their first Top Six appearance since 2005. Despite only winning once over the past month their early season form was enough to get them over the line and will carry some form into the clash following their virtual semi-final clash to win against Linwood last weekend.
Marist-Albion have faced three seasons in exile but this year they will feature in the Top Six for the first time since 2015. Despite losing two of their last three they were already guaranteed a top half finish before last weekends loss.
LINWOOD (7th) v BURNSIDE (9th) at Linfield Park
Linwood just missed out on the top six after 5 wins, 1 draw and 5 losses to earn 29 points: Burnside won 5, lost 6, to earn 27 points
Linwood were comfortable victors in their first-round clash wining 43-19 at Burnside Park.
A win last weekend would have secured Linwood a Top Six finish, but were undone by a solid Shirley outfit. A late round slump recording just one win in their last five cost them dearly.
Despite winning three of their last five, it wasn’t quite enough to get Burnside across the line. An upset against Lincoln University last weekend may have given them a sniff.
SUMNER (10th) v BELFAST (11th) at St. Leonards Square
Sumner won just 4, lost 7, to finish on 23 point: Belfast have had a tough season winning just 2 and losing 9 to earn 13 points.
Belfast won the first-round fixture easily 37-15 back at the end of April.
Sumner had an awful start to 2019 losing their first five before upsetting Lincoln University which lead to a three-match winning streak. They will definitely be a side to watch in this group, especially at home when they have their loyal crowd cheering them on at St. Leonards.
Belfast have been the biggest improvers throughout the 2019 season. After a win against University to kick-start their season, they were unlucky in losing to Sydenham in stoppage time before going down by eight points in their last two matches. Another of the teams to watch.
UNIVERSITY (12th) v SYDENHAM (8th) at Ilam Fields
University dropped all 11, but grabbed one bonus points: Sydenham won 5, lost 6, and weren’t far away with 29 points.
These two sides met last weekend resulting in the students earning their first competition point as Sydenham held on 28-24
University have struggled this season. Jared Brixton did indicate earlier in the season that the squad are in a rebuilding phase, something that tends to happen every three or four seasons as students head back home after their studies.
Sydenham have had a horror season with injuries but will not use that as an excuse. Still, they will be one of the side’s that will be expected to be near the top of the bottom six after the round-robin and come in having won two or their last three matches.
Images: Bill King
Words: Glenn Matthews