Rugby fans will tomorrow have the chance to watch North Otago play at home for the first and only time this year.
The 2019 Meads Cup champion plays Mid Canterbury at Whitestone Contracting Stadium at 2.30pm.
And now New Zealand, outside of Auckland, has returned to Alert Level 1, crowds are allowed back.
North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson is encouraging everyone to come out and support the Old Golds, after Level 2 restrictions dominated so much of this year’s representative season.
“It’s a good way to finish the season at home,” Jackson said.
“It’s been a really crazy year and to finally get the opportunity to play under Level 1 at home is great.”
The home side will be looking to avenge a 30-7 loss to Mid Canterbury in Hinds last week.
It was execution, rather than effort, that let North Otago down.
The young side showed plenty of energy and endeavour, but was unable to convert that into points.
The Old Golds nearly scored several times, but coughed up the ball at inopportune times, whereas Mid Canterbury scored some long-range tries against the run of play.
Mid Canterbury winger Raitube Vasurakuta had a standout game, playing a big part in making three tries out of nothing.
While North Otago coach Jason Forrest was not happy about his side’s loss, he said his players showed much improvement on the previous week’s game against South Canterbury.
“A few things we had put in front of [the players] during the week, they were trying to execute,” Forrest said.
“Those little moments aren’t going our way at the moment. It’s hard to say when we are losing, but I’m still happy enough.”
Forrest made special mention of Antonio Misiloi, who scored the side’s only try.
Misiloi’s was one of 15 players who had made their North Otago debuts this season.
It had been encouraging to see how enthusiastic the debutants’ were, and they brought great energy to the team culture, Forrest said.
“That’s what this year is about – it’s a development year.
“The physicality will come, once they get used to this level, but they try hard, and that’s all we can ask of them.”
North Otago had the ability to reverse last weekend’s result tomorrow, Forrest said.
“We had all the ball and enough chances, we just couldn’t quite get it across the line.
“We are not going to fear these guys, we just need to execute.”
The North Otago v Mid Canterbury match will kick off at 2.30pm.
Tickets are available at the gate and there are no restrictions on crowd numbers.
North Otago team to play Mid Canterburyy (provisional):
Kelepi Funaki, Sam Sturgess, Meli Kolinisau, Josh Clark, Blake Welsh, Toni Taufa, Marcus Balchin, Junior Fakatoufifita, Tarn Crow, Jake Matthews, Jacob Day, Sam Tatupu, Matt Vocea, Nio Misiloi, Josh Phipps, Jake Greenslade, Robbie Richardson, Josh Hayward, Oliver Kinzett, Jack Kelly, Ben Paton, Tyler Burgess.