South Canterbury coach Steve Tarrant is backing his team to rise to the occasion when they meet North Otago in the NPC third division final in Oamaru on Monday.

He said people should not read too much into North Otago's 43-19 win in the round-robin match. South Canterbury were a more polished unit now.

"This is the kind of team who will thrive on the situation," he said.

"There is a lot to play for - the championship, pride in South Canterbury and the fact that these are our neighbours, who we play club rugby against.

"There are also individuals in the team who know they let themselves down in the first game and are out for redemption."

South Canterbury's training on Tuesday was a little lethargic as players recovered from a physical encounter with Wairarapa-Bush, but it picked up on Thursday.

"A long, hard season is starting to take its toll," Tarrant said. "But we have come through injury free and by Monday the bodies and the state of mind will be ready to do the damage."

The fact that there was no pathway out of the third division this season would not diminish the occasion, he said.

"To win the third division would be no small effort and that is our focus. The key word is win."

South Canterbury have named an unchanged line-up to the side who beat Wairarapa-Bush.

"It comes down to us being clinical and accurate," Tarrant said. "Last time we came up with a lot of unforced errors which allowed them to capitalise, but we have come a long way since then."

He was convinced that if South Canterbury started in the right frame of mind they would ask some searching questions of the home side.

North Otago first five-eighth Simon Porter is likely to start, although he has been unable to train all week. The Wellington-bound player strained medial ligaments in the semifinal against Poverty Bay last weekend. He was yesterday listed in an unchanged starting line-up.

North Otago finished the round-robin with six wins from as many games, and South Canterbury had just that one loss.

North Otago: Grant Johnston, Toetu Palamo, Matt Saunders, Fepikou Tatafu, Pila Fifita, Simon Porter, Ryan McCarthy, Regan Laughton, Ross Hay, Justin Wilson, Karl Christenson, Nathan Archibald, Bill Tapealava, Barry Fox (capt), Hotili Asi. Reserves: Dallas Newlands or Brad Kernahan, Mike Mavor, Justin Rawcliffe, Kisione Ahotaeiloa, Robert Borst, Gary Byrne, Jimmy Mavor.

South Canterbury: Stephen Todd, Glen Gould, Faaitu Tuamoheloa, Scott Hewson (capt), Seti Kiole, Ryan Roberts, Brett Williamson, Hamish Drennan, Eric Smith, Brett Johnston, Andrew Milne, Mark Parry, Toby Foster, Lyndon Sim, Craig Lindsay. Reserves: Glen Barron, Matt Hayes, Richard Preston, David Walsh, Tuita Tauelangi, Sione Tuliakiono, Faingaa Savieti.

- NZPA