College face stern test against Yellows
College Old Boys and their new coach, Bryan Matenga, will get an indication of how well they are trucking this weekend.
College and Feilding are the only unbeaten sides after four rounds of the club competition and they clash this weekend at Johnston Park.
COB have been good this year undermatenga, who has returned to coaching seniors in Manawatu¯ after nine years, but this weekend should be a different story.
Defending champions Feilding have also been strong this season, with their all-conquering forward pack leading the way.
Matenga was expecting it to be a big clash, and he said College had to maintain their discipline.
His job will be helped this weekend by the return of backs Cyrus Baker and Awatere Kiwara from injury, and of Patrick Tafili-reid, who has been unavailable the past two weeks. Manawatu¯ Turbos flanker Johnny Galloway should be back from injury this week too.
Back Andrew Mcdougall returned from tonsillitis last week and lock Massimo Kirikiri returned from concussion last week.
It offsets the loss of suspended forwards Cory Purton, Kodie AlbertPapuni and Hamuera Burn, as well as loosie Elyjah Crosswell, who is with the New Zealand Barbarians under-20s this week playing against the Super Rugby under-20 teams in Taupo¯.
Matenga, a former Manawatu¯ No 8, last coached Te Kawau in 2011 and since then he worked as a coaching director for thewellington club in Wellington and coached in Canterbury for four years.
He had a season as the forwards coach at Sumner, then three years as coach of Linwood, a club he spent time at as a player.
But he came back to coaching at College this season and has had success so far.
They have some young forwards who have looked the part this year and first five-eighth Stewart Cruden pulling the strings.
In other games, winless sides Freyberg and Kia Toa will be desperate for a win at Colquhoun Park.
Freyberg will be undermanned with their Hurricanes under-20s players away, plus three players and coach Potene Paewai away at the rescheduled touch nationals.
Kia Toa are in the unfamiliar position of being without a win after four rounds. But they still can’t be taken lightly, and the return of some old hands in the forward pack have made a difference.
The other top side, Varsity, will be gunning for a win against Feilding Old Boys-o¯roua at Kimbolton.
Varsity battled past Kia Toa last week despite being understrength, and a last-gasp penalty against Te Kawau has been the only blip on their radar this season.
Fob-o¯roua have been up and down, but are hard to beat at their northern fortress.
Te Kawau have been playing well the past fortnight and face another stern test when they play Old Boys-marist at Rongotea.
Te Kawau have beaten Varsity and Freyberg in the past two weeks and another win will keep them in the top four.
Ob-marist have been improving as the season has gone on, and they ran COB close last week. Injuries to their props have hit the team hard, but Anthony Guerin returned from a knee injury last week and new Manawatu¯ Turbos prop Harry Allen has recovered from a knee injury and will be allowed to play 20 minutes this week.
They should also have a new midfielder, Sebastian Visinia, arriving from Hawke’s Bay this week.
Meanwhile, the Manawatu¯ Turbos have signed lock Semisi Poloniati, 25, who will arrive in the region at the end of the second round of club rugby.
Poloniati, at 2.03 metres tall and weighing 120 kilograms, is a former Tonga under-20 player who played for South Canterbury in 2018 and was in Wellington’s squad last year.
Turbos prop Michael Alaalatoa has signed for Irish club Leinster.