The semifinal picture is marginally clearer after the penultimate round of the Southern Region competition.
Three teams have secured a semifinal, with three more vying for the final spot next weekend.
The Clutha Steamers moved into outright second on the table with a convincing 32›17 win over table› topping Clutha Valley in Balclutha.
Valley started the match on the front foot, rushing out to a 14›0 lead with two early tries.
Valley’s defence also kept numerous Clutha attacks at bay, and Valley went into halftime the happier side, 14›7 ahead.
Clutha came out in the second half and showed all the grit and determination needed to get back into the game.
The Clutha players capitalised on Valley’s mistakes, kept the opposition on the back foot through some effective tactical kicking and took their opportunities.
Valley lost momentum through silly mistakes and was chasing the game in the second half.
Clutha halfback Jamie Brown had a strong game, directing his forwards well and getting his backline on the front foot.
Valley flanker Liam Turnbull had another strong game.
West Taieri kept its chances of making the top four alive for at least another week with a 29›16 win over Toko at Milton.
It opened the scoring and started with the lion’s share of territory and possession.
Once Toko got the ball, it started to get some go›forward, helped out by West Taieri’s eagerness on defence, which resulted in numerous offside penalties.
Toko led 13›7 at halftime but West Taieri showed why it is still a semifinal contender in the second half, scoring three tries to roll over the top of a tiring Toko side.
West Taieri’s structure, coupled with energy off the bench was enough to ensure it took the points back to Outram.
Flanker Harrison McNally was the pick of Toko’s players, while Josh Beer›Williams and Jacob Jenkins were strong for Toko.
Owaka picked up its first win of the season with a 28›12 triumph over Lawrence.
After a scrappy first half, Owaka led 8›5.
Owaka showed its ability with ball in hand in the second half, scoring four tries and looking unstoppable at times.
The forwards set a strong platform at set piece which allowed the backs regular front›foot ball, and when they went wide, they were extremely dangerous.
Flanker Ieru Leteu was Owaka’s best on the field, while prop Max Homer was the pick of the Lawrence players.
Heriot kept its slim finals chances alive with a 50›0 thumping of Clinton in the snow at Tapanui.
Heriot, which led 31›0 at the break, scored eight tries and looked far too good for the opposition.
Big River Country women’s rugby team played its semifinal against Varsity in Balclutha on Saturday.
It was solid in defence and grinding in attack totake a well› deserved victory and progress to its first ever final in just its second year in action, following a 22›10 win.
It will play Dunedin Sharks in the final at Clydevale at 1pm on Saturday.
SOHS First XV vs Wakatipu First XV
Wakatipu started well, applying pressure to South Otago High School (SOHS) in its own half and scoring a converted try in the sixth minute to give the visitors a 7›0 lead.
More pressure and time in the SOHS half gave the visitors their second try in the 15th minute.
SOHS started to see more ball and settled play and scored in the 21st minute, unconverted, to go into halftime 12›5 down.
Some hard› crashing tackles at the beginning of the second half saw Josh Dent show some midfield brilliance, and dot down for the home side to level the scores at 12›12.
More SOHS pressure and midfield clashes saw another try to Dent to give his side the lead 19›12.
Some fierce defence stopped Wakatipu and made them turn round.
More ball among the backs allowed Regan Macdonald to crash over, extending the SOHS lead to 26›12.
Not yet downed, however, Wakatipu scored a converted try in the last minute for a 26›19 final score to SOHS.
The South Otago side is away in Wanaka this weekend for another no doubt hard›fought encounter.