Manukau Courier : March 13th 2014
www.stuff.co.nz SPORT Defending champs wary of opposition By ALAN APTED The Counties Manukau rugby season starts on Saturday and already defending champions Ardmore Marist are feeling the heat. As they prepare to take on Waiuku at Waiuku, coach Julian Stone can feel other teams sharpening the knives. ‘‘It’s hard to win back-to- back titles and I know that other teams are going to target us more so this year than last year,’’ he says. ‘‘Every team that plays us is going to be out to beat us. It’s going to be tougher than last season.’’ But Stone is relaxed about coaching a team that everyone’s out to beat. It’s what champions have to put up with, he reckons. And he’s quietly confident that a repeat is on the cards. Brace: Ardmore Marist coach Julian Stone is chasing back-toback Counties Manukau premier club titles. Photos:RICHARD SPRANGER Ardmore Marist have managed to retain the bulk of last season’s squad. Only seven players have left, three of them halfbacks. First choice in that pos- ition, Jason Guthrie, is in Northland while second pick Vuga Tagicakibau is out with a serious leg injury he suffered in a sevens match. Also missing are blindside flanker Greg Lealofi, who is back in Wellington; and Jake Fepuleai, who is at university in Brisbane. A bigger concern for Stone though is the six players trying out for the Pacific Island Cup for Samoa and Tonga. They include his captain and Counties Manukau hooker Suliasi Taufalele and first choice first five AJ Alatini. But Stone’s confident the team will be able to hold the fort until those players return from international duties. The club’s proud of their achievements and wishes them well, he says. ‘‘It will be a juggling act until they get back but it’s the price one pays for developing such players.’’ The arrival of one-time Steeler Ray Laulala, who can play at first five or fullback, will be a blessing. Stone says Ardmore Marist will be out to settle a score when they take on Waiuku. ‘‘It’s an important game for us. Waiuku was one of only two teams to beat us last year. ‘‘We want to set the record right. ‘‘It will be tough. Waiuku are always hard to beat at home.’’ ❚ Draw: Bombay v Karaka, Bombay. Drury v Papakura, Drury Domain. Onewhero v Te Kauwhata, Onewhero. Pukekohe v Patumahoe, Colin Lawrie Fields. Waiuku v Ardmore Marist, Waiuku. Weymouth v Manurewa (Counties Power Cup Challenge), Laurie Gibbons Domain, Weymouth. Premier reserves 1pm. Premiers 2.45pm. MANUKAU COURIER, MARCH 13, 2014 Newbies spice up premier season By ALAN APTED Weymouth, Drury and Te Kauwhata have been elevated to the premier ranks of Counties Manukau club rugby this season. The move follows a decision by the Counties Manukau Rugby Union to do away with its Division 2 competition which comprised just five teams last year. Its purpose is three-fold. It will provide a competition that involves as many of the established clubs in the union in a meaningful competition. It’s also designed to allow Drury, Weymouth and Te Kauwhata to work towards strengthening their clubs with more players at top level. Drury president Stefan Vogrincic has welcomed the chance to move up. ‘‘We’re happy to be back. It’s going to be a tough season going up against the likes of Ardmore Marist, Pukekohe, Waiuku, Manurewa and Patumahoe but we’re looking forward to the challenge.’’ Vogrincic says it might take time to find their feet but he’s confident his club will make a meaningful contribution. The trio’s inclusion alters the shape of the competition which starts on Saturday with an 11-game round robin for the Challenge Cup. The competition will then divide into two sections. The top eight will compete for the McNamara Cup with four top teams playing semifinals and the bottom four will play for the Sid Marshall Shield. Drury plays Papakura first at Drury Domain. Weymouth hosts Manurewa at the Laurie Gibbons Domain. Te Kauwhata are away to Onewhero. 23 Champions: Wesley College took out the boys’ title at the Counties Manukau secondary school sevens championship. Photos:RICHARD SPRANGER Finalists: Papakura High School were runners-up in the girls’ competition, beaten 22-10 by Tuakau College. Colleges win places at sevens By ALAN APTED Wesley College and Tuakau College will represent Counties Manukau at the national secondary schools’ Condor Sevens in Auckland in December. They booked their places by winning the Counties Manukau titles at Bruce Pulman Park in Papakura last Thursday. Wesley won the boys’ title by beating Manurewa High School 31-0 in their final. James Cook High School beat Te Kauwhata 26-15 to secure third place. Tuakau College White captured the girls’ crown, beating Papakura High School 22-10 in their final. Tuakau College Green beat Rosehill College 30-5 in the playoff for third and fourth. Johna Rawiri of Papakura Tops: Manurewa High School’s Niko Moala was the boys’ top try scorer. High School was the top female try scorer and Niko Moala of Manurewa High School the boys’ top try scorer. Abigail Penn of Rosehill College was judged the tournament’s most improved player. Counties Manukau Rugby development officer and tournament co-ordinator Dameon Chaney says it was a fantastic day of sevens. ‘‘There was some excellent talent on display which bodes well for the future of sevens in the region.’’ Tangled: Tuakau College’s Manawa Herangi, with ball, is tangled in the tackle. Passing by: Wesleys College’s Prince Lafaele Saumani has Aria Cerei, centre, and Jarred Adams in support as he prepares to pass.
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