Old rivals prepare for battle
The Counties Power game of the week highlights one of the oldest and strongest rivalries in Counties rugby when Patumahoe hosts Pukekohe at Patumahoe Domain on Saturday at 2.45pm.
The two clubs share a long and storied history with many of the respective players growing up together, attending school together and even socialising together over many decades.
Located just a few kilometres down the road from each other numerous players have spent time representing both clubs.
Another chapter in that history will be written as the two first round winners square off with the Counties Power Cup up for grabs.
Pukekohe go into the match as favourites having played finals rugby last year and on the back of an impressive first-up win over Karaka last weekend.
Coach Waka Setitaia, in his first season at the helm of the side, played for both clubs and has a good relationship with his Patumahoe opposite Jeff Maka.
‘‘I was talking to Jeff Maka, the Patty coach, and I asked him if they were all healthy,’’ Setitaia said.
‘‘Every time we play them they grow and arm and a leg for that. We need to prepare for that. ‘‘It is always hard to win there.’’ Maka likewise knows the challenge their neighbours present especially after his side was well below their best against Papakura in week one.
‘‘We just have to go back to the drawing board at training and do our homework for Pukekohe,’’ Maka said.
‘‘It is going to be tough but it is here at home so hopefully our boys are going to be up for it.’’
Both coaches agree the rivalry is a special one that is reflected by mutual respect.
‘‘It is a good healthy rivalry and it all comes down to the players,’’ Setitaia said.
‘‘Guys play in sevens teams in the off-season or touch or whatever.
‘‘They form their little friendships and whatever happens on the field stays on the field and afterwards they get together for a beer or a little kava session and everyone gets together and that is what you want to see as coaches.’’