A bonus-point win against East Coast tomorrow would secure a home semifinal in the Meads Cup for second-placed North Otago.
East Coast is winless, but it has former All Black Zac Guildford in its ranks and a trip to Ruatoria will still be tough for the Old Golds.
Leading the Heartland Championship standings is Thames Valley, one point ahead of North Otago.
If, after the weekend’s results, North Otago and Thames Valley are tied on points at the top of the table, North Otago would secure top spot because it beat the Swamp Foxes 22-21 last month.
Thames Valley plays third-from-bottom King Country in Te Kuiti tomorrow.
North Otago coach Jason Forrest said it was a simple equation – “we just need five points”.
“[East Coast] will be up for it to finish their season well.
“If we can front up and take it away from them in the first half like we did last week it is all in our hands.”
North Otago found itself in second place thanks to a 34-10 pumping of Mid Canterbury last Saturday in Oamaru.
It laid the blueprint for success with a try in the first two minutes.
After securing the kickoff, North Otago worked through the phases and pushed upfield before Lemi Masoe crashed over.
It marked the start of a half where the Old Golds played with accuracy, pace and nous, and it finished the first 40 leading 27-3.
Mid Canterbury fought back in the second half as the game lost some of its intensity, but the damage was done, and North Otago finished the deserved victor.
Lock Woody Kirkwood got through a power of work, and front rowers Ralph Darling and Meli Kolinisau carried well, as did their replacements – Kelepi Funaki and Mike Mata’afa, who would walk on to the starting lineups for most other teams.
First-five Mike Williams took good options all game, while fullback Patrick Pati continued to build on his impressive form.
“We had one intention: we had to win with five points and it probably suited how we went about things,” Forrest said.
“Hopefully [the team] takes confidence out of that, as they should.
“Onwards and upwards, and who knows what will happen after this weekend?”