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Hard to stop . . . Old Boys lock Sale Pi'i runs the ball against Valley. PHOTO: PHIL JANSSEN

THE WRAP

Who will claim the Citizens Shield is anybody’s guess.

The final round of the regular season saw third-placed Old Boys tip up competition leader Valley 26-24 and fourth-placed Maheno trounce Excelsior 57-7.

At Kurow, the home side, celebrating Michael Paterson’s 200th game for the club, saw off Athletic Marist, 47-5.

In Weston, Old Boys finally got on the right side of a close game after losing both its previous two games 27-26.

It is the second time this season Old Boys has defeated Valley, and its forwards again laid the platform, dominating the first 40 minutes to lead 14-0 at the break.

Valley worked its way back and had a chance to steal the game with a late penalty attempt, but it sailed wide.

At Whitestone Contracting Stadium, Maheno finally put it all together, helped by a Robbie Smith masterclass.

It led 33-0 at halftime and was in control of the whole game.

Excelsior was guilty of having one eye on the semifinal and the hiding should have given its players motivation to train well this week.

Kurow and Athletic Marist played their last game of the season.

Athletic Marist was competitive in patches, but Kurow proved too strong, taking the win 47-5 after leading 21-5 at half time.

SEMIFINALS

The two neighbouring country clubs – Valley and Maheno – clash in Weston tomorrow.

Valley has been the dominant team this season. After losing to Maheno first up, it has lost only two more games.

Its success has been built on a dominant forward pack which retains possession better than any other side in the competition.

Between that and its ability at set piece and on defence, Valley can frustrate teams to giving away penalties, which Brad McKenzie converts more often that not.

Valley is not a one-trick pony though, with players such as Junior Fakatoufifita, Matt Vocea and Howard Packman more than capable of creating opportunities.

Maheno had a horror run of injuries this season, but looks to be peaking at the right time.

It was outstanding across the park against Excelsior and has picked up handy additions like Ben McCarthy and Mike Mata’afa as the season has worn on.

And let’s not forget Valley last year laid the blueprint for Maheno by winning the competition after qualifying fourth.

Excelsior hosts Old Boys in the other semifinal.

Excelsior has been one of the form teams all competition, managing to put out a consistent side all season.

However, it has been hit by injuries at the wrong time of the season and will be sweating on the fitness of outstanding midfielders Taina Tamou and Antonio Misiloi.

Its loose forward trio of Mosese Aho, Mat Duff and Samuela Babiau has been destructive and English first-five Tom Moysey always seems to have time on the ball.

Halfback Tarn Crow has been one of the big improvers this season, but he had a knock on Saturday and will be touch and go for tomorrow.

Old Boys is the dark horse of the semifinalists.

After a month of struggling for players because of work commitments, Old Boys put together a strong team on Saturday and showed it was not a spent force.

It has a powerful and experienced forward pack, led by player-coach Ralph Darling, No8 Samisoni Tongotongo and hard-working flanker Toni Taufa.

The return of first-five Inoke Naufahu will also provide a big boost.

Darling said he felt his team was building nicely over the past few weeks, despite losing a couple of close games.

“We should have a full quota of players, fitness might be an issue, but Saturday will tell all.”

WAITAKI WAHINE

Athletic Marist Waitaki Wahine had a big win over Southland 46-7 in Dunedin on Saturday.

The match was not part of the Otago competition, but provided a good hit-out during a break in the women’s competition.

Southland has been considering entering a team in the Farah Palmer Cup, but the Wahine were far to strong.

Cheyenne Cunningham continued her prolific point-scoring form with two tries and three conversions.

Lavinia Sanft was strong at centre, while forwards Sarah McCarron and Georgina McCullough provided impetus up front.

This week, Wahine plays competition frontrunner Pirates in the final round-robin game of the season in Oamaru.

Citizens Shield

Final-round results

Maheno 57 (Adam Johnson 3, Forrest Beer, Clement Gasca, Josh Hayward, Ben McCarthy, Hayden Tisdall, Robbie Smith tries; Smith 6 con) Excelsior 7 (Samuela Babiau try, Tom Moysey con)

Old Boys 26 (Sale Pi’i 2, Sione Halalele, Ralph Darling tries; Inoke Naufahu 3 con) Valley 24 (Howard Packman 2, Sam Sturgess, Jake Greenslade tries; Brad McKenzie 2 con)

Kurow 47 (Ryan Ambler 2, Tonga Malafu, Michael Paterson, Isaac Milne, Jesse Porter, Thomas Harding tries; Sam McDonald 5 con, Tyler Burgess con) Athletic Marist 5 (Mason Kinzett try)

Player points

Maheno v Excelsior

2 – Robbie Smith (M)

1 – Ben McCarthy (M)

1 – Jake Day (M)

1 – Hamish Slater (E)

1 – Mat Duff (E)

Old Boys v Valley

1 – Tini Tuipolotu (OB)

1 – Ralph Darling (OB)

1 – Sale Pi’i (OB)

1 – Brad McKenzie (V)

1 – Junior Fakatoufifita (V)

1 – Howard Packman (V)

Kurow v Athletic Marist

1 – Epineri Logavatu (AM)

1 – Louis Ellis (AM)

1 – Sione Kaufusi (K)

1 – Sam McDonald (K)

1 – Tonga Malafu (K)

1 – Thomas Harding (K)