It might not be the Blood Match, but there is still plenty at stake when the Oamaru First XVs clash at St Kevin’s College this weekend.
For both the home side and great rival Waitaki Boys’ High School, this is a chance to test the waters ahead of the big game on the last day of term, July 6.
It is also the last competition game before the Otago premier schools’ grade splits into two.
Waitaki Boys’ is having a whale of a season.
It should arguably be unbeaten – its only competition loss was to King’s High School, 16-15, in a game it could easily have won – and it is top of the table, one point clear of the Otago Boys’ High School First XV and Mt Aspiring College.
“We’re tracking OK,” Waitaki coach Wayne Kinzett said.
“I’m really impressed with the commitment of the boys, and we’re aiming at winning every week.”
A 35-7 thumping of Mt Aspiring last Saturday suggests Waitaki will be the warm favourite this weekend, but form does not always count when the Oamaru schools play each other.
There is always extra spice when the two clash, and Kinzett is wary of letting the emotion of the occasion take over.
“We just want to go there and do the job and then concentrate on the top six.
“I don’t want to get too tied up in anything. We just want to play a game of rugby and stick to what we know.”
It is a big week for Waitaki, which had to travel to Invercargill on Wednesday to play Southland Boys’ High School in the traditional interschool. Jacob Pledger scored Waitaki’s only try in a competitive 22-10 loss.
St Kevin’s started the season well, winning its first two games, but has lost three straight.
It has dealt with multiple injuries but showed last weekend, in a sterling effort in a 31-12 loss to powerhouse Otago Boys’, that it can pack a punch at full strength.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” St Kevin’s coach Robbie Breen said.
“We jumped on the injury train early and struggled to get off, and it wasn’t until the weekend that we finally had a team to pick from.”
The formula to make the top six is simple for St Kevin’s.
It needs to win the Oamaru derby tomorrow, and hope Dunstan High School loses to South Otago High School.
Breen is relishing an opportunity to tackle high-flying Waitaki.
“I’d love to say it’s just another game, but the reality is that it’ll be a lot of fun.