We ek’s rest gives Lions winning edge

Central Leader - - Sport - B y S c o t t M o rg a n

A week off did the Mt Al­bert Lions the world of good.

The mi­nor premier­ship run­ners-up won a spot in the Fox Memo­rial league fi nal.

Their strong fi nish in the com­pe­ti­tion earned them a break be­fore Satur­day’s semifi nal, where they over­came East Coast Bays 32-12 at Fowlds Park.

In Satur­day’s fi nal they face top qual­ifi ers Otahuhu, who took out Marist 31-20 in the other semifi nal.

Mt Al­bert coach Brent Gem­mell says the week off al­lowed his play­ers to get back to full fi tness be­fore the clash against East Coast Bays.

“It gave us the op­por­tu­nity to nurse a few in­juries. It’s the fi rst time in the last seven rounds that we’ve not had to bring any­one up from re­serve grade.”

He says the Lions were on at­tack for much of the game, and de­fended well when they were in their own half of the ground.

“We ex­e­cuted the stuff we’ve done all year and made sure we played to our strengths in the right parts of the fi eld.”

As for the Fox Memo­rial fi­nal it­self, Gem­mell says both sides are very evenly matched.

“Our last

game against Otahuhu was a real bat­tle. The key to the week­end for us is to en­sure we play with the right in­ten­sity.”

Gem­mell says his side has plenty of fi nals ex­pe­ri­ence with play­ers such as stand­off Steve Buck­ing­ham turn­ing out for the Auck­land Lions in the now de­funct Barter­card Cup over the years.

But he knows they can’t take that ex­pe­ri­ence for granted. “Ex­pe­ri­ence means noth­ing if you don’t show up with the right at­ti­tude,” he says.

In sec­ond- tier Shar­man Cup action Rich­mond de­feated Paku­ranga 42-22 to claim a place in the fi nal, where they will face Ma­nurewa.

Both premier matches take place at Mt Smart Sta­dium 2 on Satur­day, with the Shar­man Cup fi nal kick­ing off at 12.45pm and the Fox Memo­rial start­ing at 3pm.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM.

O n t h e ch a rg e :

Mt Al­ber t sec­ond rowe r Sala Fa’al­ogo bu rsts through the East Coast Bays de­fence dur ing their Fox M e m o r i a l l e a g u e s e m i fi­nal at Fowlds Pa r k on Satur­day.

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