Cham­pi­ons bat­tle it out for Gal­la­her

Central Leader - - Sport - By Scott Morgan

His­tory is set to re­peat it­self dur­ing Satur­day’s Gal­la­her Shield club rugby fi­nal at Eden Park.

Reign­ing champs Pon­sonby will face last year’s fi­nal­ists Waitem­ata, af­ter they over­came Marist 27-12 at West­ern Springs.

Pon­sonby coach Si­mon Scott says Waitem­ata’s big for­ward pack are sure to make it dif­fi­cult for them.

But he is con­fi­dent his side has the depth to win their sev­enth Gal­la­her Shield ti­tle in eight years, de­spite los­ing sev­eral play­ers to Auck­land ear­lier in the sea­son.

“We’ve got a good group of guys who make up our squad,” he says.

“If peo­ple hadn’t no­ticed, it’s how clubs come out af­ter the Air New Zealand Cup squad is an­nounced that shows what state you’re in.”

And with the fi­nal be­ing held at Eden Park, Scott is hop­ing for some run­ning rugby.

“Even if you do get a lot of rain, it’s a great sur­face to play on.”

Scott says half­back Wayne Ngalu­afe’s out­stand­ing tac­ti­cal play will be an im­por­tant fea­ture of the fi­nal.

But he knows they have to get their goal-kick­ing right af­ter wing Adam Sid­dall missed sev­eral shots against Marist, be­fore first-five Brett Wil­liams took over later in the match.

“At the end of the day goal- kick­ing is go­ing to win you fi­nals, so we’ve got to sharpen that up.”

Mean­while, Gram­mar Carl­ton coach Bran­don Jack­son says he’s gut­ted his team lost out to Waitem­ata at Corn­wall Park 17-10 in ex­tra time.

The match was tied 10-10 at full­time.

“I don’t know if we de­served to win, but we had the win­ning of the game at one stage.

“Waitem­ata have an ex­pe­ri­enced for­ward pack in the wet, while we have a lot of young guys.”

Jack­son says the un­cer­tainty of hav­ing many of his sec­ond-tier play­ers se­lected for the Auck­land train­ing squad late in the sea­son has made things dif­fi­cult.

“It’s been hit and miss the last few weeks. I knew we were go­ing to lose the top­tier guys, but when the sec­ond-tier guys moved away, I didn’t know who would be play­ing.”

How­ever the for­mer Auck­land player is pleased with the progress his side has made this sea­son.

“We had a very, very young squad last year, and now we’ve just got a young squad,” he says.

“We won games this year that we wouldn’t have won last year.”

In the sec­ond-tier Por­tola Tro­phy semi­fi­nal Te Pa­pa­paMt Welling­ton de­feated Pa­p­a­toe­toe 17-15, while East Ta­maki beat Eden-Roskill 15-8 in the Pres­i­dent’s Cup semi­fi­nal.

The Gal­la­her Shield fi­nal be­tween Pon­sonby and Waitem­ata takes place at Eden Park on Satur­day, while Te Pa­papa-Mt Welling­ton face Teach­ers East­ern at Orakei Do­main for the Por­tola Tro­phy.

Both matches 2.45pm.

start

at

Pho­tos: JA­SON OXENHAM

Break­ing through: Pon­sonby half­back Wayne Ngalu­afe is scragged by Marist open­side Feleti Tau­moe­peau dur­ing the Gal­la­her Shield semi­fi­nal at West­ern Springs on Satur­day.

Down you go: Pon­sonby wing Tom Wi­ley can’t es­cape Marist sec­ond-five Josh Levi’s tackle af­ter claim­ing a high kick.

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