Shirley will compete in the Top Six for the first time since 2005 after their big 31-8 victory over Linwood at Burwood Park, while Marist-Albion will also be there, marking their first appearance since 2015.
Lincoln University, Christchurch, High School Old Boys and New Brighton will join them when the five-match round robin kicks off next weekend.
Shirley played the first half into a gale against Linwood but still managed to lead 18-3 at the split. The game plan was simple in the first half “Keep the ball in hand” according to assistant coach Hayden Mitchell.
A controlled kicking game from first-five Cullen Moody which kept Linwood pinned back inside their own 22 during the second half and a stunning performance from No.8 Siua Maile including two tries were the highlights for the Vikings.
Following the win, Shirley Assistant Hayden Mitchell said his side are determined to take this momentum with them and push on even further. “We just need to win two or three and we make the Top 4” and says a lot of their performance’s this season have been a result of the game plan and efforts from Head Coach Dean Lutton. “The things that he has implemented this season, a lot of accolades should go to him” Mitchell said.
Over at Edgar McIntosh Marist-Albion got off to a flyer and led 17-0 after just less than 20mins, before Christchurch made the most of their first opportunity inside Marists 22 earning themselves a penalty try on the half hour mark.
A Hugh Renton double just either side of the break saw Christchurch claw their way back into the contest and a clinical in the second spell showing from the visitors was a clear showing as to why they are one of the favourites to win the competition, scoring four tries and keeping the home side to zero and starving them of the ball.
Although Christchurch coach Kieran Kite wasn’t happy giving up a lead to start, he did say that his side had won games in different ways throughout the season so far, and this one especially showed their ability to get the job done.
Belfast put in another good shift, leading New Brighton early into the second spell before the seasiders finished the stronger of the two, coming away with a 20-12 victory at Sheldon Park, retaining the DCL Shield and confirming their spot in the Top Six in the process.
Young halfback, Tyson Belworthy had another outstanding game while second-five Logan Bell also impressed.
New Brighton needed to win their final four matches in order to push for a top half finish and Coach Scott Pawson pointed to that as being a turning point in their season. “Every game was a must-win, so it was really easy as a coach to get the boys up for it”
Pawson didn’t want to look too far into the future. “There are six very strong sides and we can’t afford to look any further ahead than our next game.”
Sumner will go into the bottom six as one of the form teams after winning four of their last six matches.
The Wave put in a gutsy performance with a 27-20 win against Old Boys at St. Leonards, the visitors scoring a late converted try to secure a bonus point.
The Sumner scrum and an outstanding defensive effort played a massive part in paving the way for victory.
University secured their first point of the competition going down 28-24 in a gutsy effort, the win for Sydenham not quite enough to push them into the top half while Lincoln University finished in top spot with an impressive 50-12 win against Burnside.
Lincoln University 48, Christchurch 47, Marist-Albion 37, Old Boys 33, New Brighton, Shirley 32, Linwood, Sydenham 29, Burnside 27, Sumner 23, Belfast 13, University 1
Images: Rachel Briggs Photography
Words: Glenn Matthews