Top four finish within sight

Home game . . . North Otago winger Ben McCarthy (left) kicks for goal while Tini Feke passes the ball from a ruck. Inset: Replacement halfback Jake Matthews had a big impact, and members of the North Otago Rugby Supporters Club made the trip to watch the Old Golds play Thames Valley last weekend. PHOTOS: JASON BARTLEY/BART’S RUGBY PHOTOS

Jason Forrest hopes tomorrow is North Otago’s last home game for the season.

If it is, that means North Otago is in the top four and will play off for the Meads Cup. If not, it will have to settle for the Lochore Cup finals back home, at Whitestone Contracting Stadium.

The Old Golds host West Coast tomorrow and are searching for a win — even better a bonus› point win — to stay in fourth spot on the Heartland Championship ladder.

It is the first time since 2019, when West Coast got up 18-17, the two teams have met — but North Otago went on to win the Meads Cup after it ‘‘pulled our heads in’’.

West Coast is winless this season, but in one of the tightest Heartland seasons, Forrest is not reading too much in to his opponent’s record.

‘‘We’re not taking their zero wins into anything because they’re a dangerous, dangerous side,’’ the North Otago coach said.

‘‘They’ve still got a lot to play for.’’

North Otago will need to be ‘‘switched on’’ to its own game this week and make sure it gets on the board early to carry that momentum through the game.

‘‘Just do those little things a little bit better than we have been doing over the last couple of weeks.’’

The team lost 26-21 last week to Thames Valley in a frustrating game where the Swamp Foxes capitalised when holding possession.

But the Old Golds worked hard to dig themselves out of a hole, after being down 7-12 at the break, and the impact off the bench worked, he said.

‘‘We needed some impact and needed some energy. They came on and made a massive difference. Jake Matthews, and a couple of others, came on and [did] a really good job.

‘‘We showed some real heart to come back in that second half and get what could be a very, very important bonus point moving forward.’’

Big loose forward Seta Koroitamana has been ruled out this week with a swollen thumb and Manulua Taiti is ‘‘50/50’’ to be back this week. Taiti pulled out during the warm-up against Thames Valley last week due to a calf injury.

Mid Canterbury and King Country are knocking on the door to take fourth spot off North Otago, and North Otago will play King Country in the final round robin match next week.

‘‘If we’re good enough this week to get across the line, then it could come down to whoever wins out of us and King Country,’’ Forrest said.

‘‘Every week’s a test match for us. The next couple of weeks are huge for everyone.’’

He hoped a large crowd would turn out tomorrow to cheer the team on to bring the win home.

‘‘Get along. We’re going to need the support this week.’’

Kick-off is at 2.30pm.