Marist and United face off in fi­nal again


‘‘Fi­nals are in­ter­est­ing in any sport’’

The stage is set, and a sense of deja vu per­vades the Auck­land soft­ball com­mu­nity as Marist and Auck­land United get set to con­test Auck­land’s premier men’s soft­ball fi­nal for the sec­ond year in a row.

Last year’s cham­pi­onship saw United walk away with vic­tory and their fourth con­sec­u­tive premier crown.

And this year, they will take to Rosedale Park on Satur­day as the favourites yet again, hav­ing gone through the reg­u­lar sea­son with an im­pres­sive 15-1 record, scor­ing 90 runs and al­low­ing just 15.

They seek their fifth-straight ti­tle, with a side that hosts some of the countries hottest tal­ent - in­clud­ing Black Sox cap­tain Thomas Enoka.

The one blem­ish on an oth­er­wise per­fect record, how­ever, came at the hands of Marist just a week ago.

That con­fi­dence, com­bined with the fact Marist beat one of the countries top club sides - Mount Al­bert Ram­blers - in the semi­fi­nals on Tues­day night, could give them a men­tal edge.

How­ever, while coach Ed­die Kohlhase said that was a bonus, the chal­lenge was yet to come.

‘‘They’re the two top ranked teams in the coun­try,’’ Kohlhase said.

‘‘They’re two very good sides, full of New Zealand in­ter­na­tion­als, so we’re re­ally happy with our re­sults. But we’re un­der no il­lu­sion of how dif­fi­cult it will be to grab a cham­pi­onship.’’

Kohlhase said mak­ing back-to­back fi­nals was a tes­ta­ment to the club’s player de­vel­op­ment and re­cruit­ing, and the gritty at­ti­tude his side showed all sea­son would come in handy against a tough United out­fit.

For United coach Dun­can Enoka, los­ing to Marist last week was a bit­ter pill, but it has given his team ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion.

‘‘It was dis­ap­point­ing,’’ Enoka said.

‘‘Even though it didn’t make any dif­fer­ence to our stand­ings, go­ing through un­de­feated would have just put the ic­ing on the cake.

‘‘They’ll come out fired up.’’ United will be with­out cap­tain Ben Enoka who is still re­cov­er­ing from a torn quadri­cep. That breaks up the star Enoka trio of Ben, Thomas, and Camp­bell - all Black Sox play­ers - though the side will still boast four other past and present na­tional play­ers.

But if any­thing, last week’s win will give Marist the be­lief that United isn’t to­tally un­stop­pable.


Al­fons Oveiniko­vas at bat for his Auck­land United side. Ed­die Kohlhase

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