Pa­tuma­hoe will try for Coun­ties top spot

Franklin County News - - SPORT -

The top spot is up for grabs in the Coun­ties Manukau Cub Rugby Coun­ties Power Game of the Week on Satur­day.

And Ard­more Marist is look­ing to re­main on top af­ter the com­ple­tion of the first round when they meet Pa­tuma­hoe at Bruce Pulman Park.

The home side has gone on a phe­nom­e­nal run since the open­ing day of the sea­son.

They were thor­oughly out­played by Ma­nurewa in the first 40 min­utes of the sea­son-opener be­fore storm­ing back into the match in the sec­ond half to all but over­haul a large half­time deficit.

Ard­more Marist has won every match since and takes a three-point lead at the top of the stand­ings into the mid­way part of the round robin.

For first-sea­son coach Doug Sanft, that is a mas­sive box ticked al­ready.

When he took over the reins he had a num­ber of ob­jec­tives in mind but get­ting a win­ning cul­ture was a top pri­or­ity for Snaft.

‘‘As a club we are try­ing to turn things around, try­ing to get the at­mos­phere go­ing and just get­ting the cul­ture back,’’ he said.

‘‘We are slowly get­ting there but [fin­ish­ing the first round on top] would be big for the club.’’

Sanft played some of his footy at Pa­tuma­hoe and knows they will not be an easy test come Satur­day. ‘‘They can play,’’ Sanft said. ‘‘I have watched some clips of them.

‘‘They play pretty much the same as us. We risk a lot and try and get some re­wards out of it. ‘‘They are a good team. ‘‘Every team is hard now, which is good for the com­pe­ti­tion.’’

His op­po­si­tion coach agrees with just how tough this sea­son’s cham­pi­onship is.

‘‘It is the tough­est comp in a long, long time so these wins are re­ally im­por­tant,’’ Pa­tuma­hoe men­tor Reon Gra­ham said.

‘‘Ard­more Marist are the bench­mark so we will be do­ing a bit of home­work dur­ing the week to try and get the boys up for that one.

‘‘We have to shut their big runners down.

‘‘They’ve got big ball runners all across the park, ath­letic for­wards and strong-run­ning backs.

‘‘They play a fast high-tempo game so our de­fense is go­ing to have to be right on.’’

Gra­ham’s side got back to win­ning ways last week af­ter a two-game los­ing streak which saw them drop games to Karaka and Ma­nurewa hav­ing been un­beaten prior to that.

‘‘It was good to sing the song in the sheds – it had been two weeks since we’ve done that.’’

Ma­nurewa could get in front of Ard­more Marist should the for­mer beat Waiuku at Mount­fort Park this week­end and if the lat­ter lost to Pa­tuma­hoe.

Pa­pakura will look for a break-through win against nearneigh­bours Karaka at Massey Park while Pukekohe meets Onewhero at Colin Lawrie Fields.

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