Big match first up

Central Leader - - Sport - By Scott Mor­gan

Af­ter months of train­ing and sev­eral warm-up games, the club rugby sea­son kicks off to­mor­row.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Pon­sonby face a tough task in the first round when they take on last year’s beaten Gal­la­her Shield fi­nal­ists Waitem­ata at Waitem­ata Park.

“Ev­ery time we go head to head it’s no-holds-barred,” Pon­sonby coach Si­mon Scott says.

“It’ll be a good game but it’s al­ways tough.”

Scott says they are still work­ing on their com­bi­na­tions so early in the sea­son.

But they could be boosted by the in­clu­sion of Blues play­ers Jay Wil­liams and Win­ston Stan­ley who might be made avail­able for club rugby de­pend­ing on in­juries that oc­cur in the Su­per 14.

Pon­sonby de­feated Otahuhu 17-13 in the semi­fi­nal of the Waka Nathan Cup pre-sea­son com­pe­ti­tion last Satur­day, while Marist thrashed Te Pa­papa-Mt Welling­ton 57-7. The round 10 clash in June be­tween Marist and Pon­sonby will dou­ble as the Waka Nathan Cup fi­nal.

Mean­while Gram­mar Carl­ton face Col­lege Ri­fles at Ri­fles Park to­mor­row af­ter choos­ing to skip the Waka Nathan Cup.

Gram­mar Carl­ton coach Bran­don Jack­son says the match will be a tough en­counter, with sev­eral play­ers de­fect­ing from last year’s premier re­serve team to Col­lege Ri­fles this sea­son.

“That will give them a huge amount of mo­ti­va­tion.”

Jack­son says hav­ing depth will be the key to suc­cess, with play­ers that are suc­cess­ful of­ten drafted into the Auck­land Air New Zealand Cup side or other rep­re­sen­ta­tive teams later in the sea­son.

In other action Eden-Roskill face Sub­urbs at Grib­ble­hirst Park and Te Pa­papa-Mt Welling­ton play Uni­ver­sity at Ham­lin Park.

All matches start at 2.45pm.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Mak­ing a splash: New Zealand un­der­wa­ter hockey reps, from left: Alex Si­galas-Buchanan, Michael O’Neale, Stephanie O’Neale and Carly Black are set to take on the Aussies at the transtas­man un­der­wa­ter hockey toura­ment in Mel­bourne.

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