Lighter times ahead

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

A rugby league side that have been through some lean years on the field, and have re­sorted to week­night train­ings in a car park, have the be­lief they can achieve some­thing spe­cial this year.

Ti­tahi Bay Mar­lins have been es­tab­lished for over 20 years but it’s only since 2003 that they have had a reg­u­lar pres­ence in Welling­ton rugby league. They have al­ways played at se­nior 1 level, but as­pire to reach premier re­serve grade.

A fam­ily-based club, their cap­tain Jeff Risati reck­ons a bet­ter bunch of guys you won’t find.

‘‘Ev­ery­one plays for each other, we don’t have clu­b­rooms and last year we won one game, but there is a lot of heart. Af­ter that ter­ri­ble sea­son, 35 guys still turned up for our first train­ing run this year, that says some­thing.’’

The team trains at Els­don Park, us­ing the spillover from lights above the hockey turf to con­duct their drills and run through plays. In times past, when the lights weren’t on, they have ei­ther trained in the dark or run around in the Spot­light car park – with boots on – where street lights pro­vide some il­lu­mi­na­tion.

Things are look­ing up, how­ever. Along with get­ting ma­jor spon­sors Drive Safe on board, Ngati Toa sports club are giv­ing them use of their lights in one cor­ner of Els­don Park.

This has gone hand-in-hand with bet­ter re­sults on the field, as they have made the top six in Se­nior 1 for the first time. While they lost to the al­ways-strong Kapiti Bears, they have recorded ex­cel­lent wins over Wainuiomata (at Wise Park), Pe­tone, Te Aroha and Tren­tham.

Sec­ond rower Risati has con­fi­dence as they head into the play­offs. As a unit, they have learnt how to win.

‘‘As a team we’re still re­build­ing, and we have lost play­ers to other clubs in the last few years, but we’re do­ing re­ally well. There’s a sense of be­lief that we can take this out, we’re a good team right across the board – dom­i­nant for­wards and, for the first time in a while, a de­cent back­line.’’

In the top six for­mat, ev­ery­one plays ev­ery­one once, with the points earned sort­ing out a top four for semi­fi­nal play.

Al­though their home ground is Can­nons Creek Park, Risati and player-coach Ants Al­bert hope from next year, with Porirua City Coun­cil’s per­mis­sion, they can make Els­don Park their home and use the pavil­ion next to the hockey turf as chang­ing rooms.

Mar­lins magic: Jeff Risati, left, player since 2006 and cur­rent cap­tain, along with player-coach Ants Al­bert, pleased to be train­ing again on grass.

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