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