Tomorrow Otago Boys High School hosts Southland Boys High School in a top of the table clash of the Highlanders 1st XV Competition. The game will also double as the schools' traditional interschool match, which has been an annual fixture for 95 years.
History is with the Southerners having won 47 of these matches to Otago's 38 with an astounding 10 draws. The other factor against Otago Boys is in recent years, the away team has always come out on top in the interschool game.
The sides met twice in 2009, with Otago Boys winning both encounters, 14-8 in Southland and 24-18 in Dunedin. Don't read too much into this however, they are both different teams this year, both ready for the game of their lives.
So far in 2010 they have been the two form sides in the competition. Otago Boys have come away with big wins over Central Southland (92-0), Verdon College (62-0), St Kevins College (104-3) and John McGlashan College (39-5). While Southland have also dominated with wins over St Kevins (81-0), Dunstan (23-6), John McGlashan (52-0) and South Otago (81-7). Both sides have only conceded one try the whole tournament, while scoring plenty themselves.
Southland Boys' are traditionally a tough team with ruthless forwards who will wear the opposition down. Their most dangerous back in 2010 looks to be first five Scott Eade, who is an outstanding runner who can put players into gaps while also being an excellent kicker.
The key for Otago Boys will lie in the backs who have been scintillating all year, looking dangerous whenever they spread it wide. Liam Edwards has stood out, always hitting the ball well from fullback as well as being radar accurate with the boot. Tim Lawrence is a dangerous runner and impressed with two tries last week, while Michael Collins looks to be the goods at second five having the complete package. Lance Taylor got better as the game went on last week, dotting down for two tries and running the backline well.
In the forwards they have the one of the best loose-forward trios they've had in years with the McCaw like Josh Reid on the openside, the brutal Brodie Hume on the blind with the rampaging Te Reo Apaipo at the back. They combine to be a force on the field and will be key in their game tomorrow.
Captain Isaac Gutschlag will provide the fire in the pack, and has a very high work rate for a prop.
The game will be tight and is too close to call at this stage. Either side could come out on top but one would think that having the support of their school in the historic grandstand on Littlebourne will give the Otago Boys men the lift they need to get up and win.
The game will air live on the Rugby Channel at 2:30.
This one's a must watch, there's so much writing on it, I'll take Otago Boys given they are the home team. But one thing's for sure, it will be one hell of a game.
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