Bap­tism of fire for Marist Saints

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By TOM CARNEGIE

The first game of the sea­son proved to be a tough one for the Marist Saints, who lost to the Glenora Bears by two points in the open­ing round of the Fox Me­mo­rial rugby league premier­ship.

The hard-fought game was played at Harold Moody Park on April 11, with the Bears show­ing their nerve to grab an 18-16 victory at the death.

Marist coach (and for­mer coach of Glenora) Bren­don Dou­glas says de­spite the loss it is good to have the first game of the sea­son out of the way.

‘‘It was the first real op­por­tu­nity for the guys to test their match fit­ness and com­bi­na­tions un­der pres­sure, so in that re­spect it was a good learn­ing op­por­tu­nity for the guys.

‘‘‘We fought hard but just missed out,’’ he says.

Marist fielded four new first grade play­ers who were thrown into the Harold Moody caul­dron.

‘‘A lot of our new guys got to ex­pe­ri­ence first-hand how tight the Fox is.

‘‘It’s a hard les­son and there were a lot of dis­ap­pointed guys af­ter the game,’’ Dou­glas says.

Bears co-coach Boy­cie Nel­son says although their ex­e­cu­tion lacked at times, he’s pleased at how his young side re­sponded to chas­ing the score­line early on.

‘‘Marist were re­ally good, they put us un­der pres­sure.

‘‘But the boys hung in there – we just had to bide our time and wait for that mo­men­tum shift.

‘‘We did that and that was re­ally pleas­ing for me,’’ Nel­son says.

In a match that see-sawed right the way through, Marist scored first through Tom Kava­liku and were up 10-0 when co-cap­tain Simon Luafalealo found the gap and sprinted 60 me­tres to score.

The Bears clawed their way back into it and trailed 10-8 at the break, af­ter Paea Manukia crossed the try­line twice.

Glenora struck back soon af­ter half­time with a try to Cameron Plant.

With 20 min­utes left on the clock, Peter Save­lionts dot­ted down with a four-pointer to give the Saints the lead.

But it was to be the Bears’ day, af­ter sus­tained pres­sure saw a Marist scrum-feed 10 me­tres from their own line with only min­utes re­main­ing.

The Saints now turn their at­ten­tion to the Otara Scor­pi­ons when they face off at Mur­ray Hal­berg Park on April 18.

Otara are also com­ing off a loss, go­ing down to the Pa­pukura Sea Ea­gles 16-50 in round one.

In a re­peat of last year’s grand fi­nal, de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Pt Che­va­lier took first brag­ging rights with a 34-28 victory over the Mt Al­bert Li­ons at Mt Smart Sta­dium.

Glenora’s Cameron Plant tries to stop Marist’s Tom Kava­liku.

Simon Luafalealo, left, beats a chal­lenge from Bears’ de­fender War­wick Cheney to score.

Bears’ War­wick Cheney, left, and Marist’s Lo­keni Gavet fly high for the ball.

Pho­tos: PHOTOTEK

Grady Samson of Glenora is tack­led by Marist Saints’ Dali Suljic.

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