Strengthened Te Kawau a potential danger team in round two
As the Centennial Shield round of McDonalds Senior One club rugby is set to kick off, Te Kawau loom as one of the competition’s most dangerous teams.
At 28 competition points out of the top four, semi-finals are well out of reach, but they had a strong mid-season recruitment drive and now appear poised to shake their easy-beat status and potentially put a dent in a couple of club’s playoff hopes.
With classy centre Kameli Kuruyabaki on deck along with Linton quartet Harrison Black, Dominic Broadhead, Troy Sheriff and Bailey Taylor, Te Kawau finally have some depth.
Aiding their cause against Varsity this weekend is the availability of Hurricanes lock Liam Mitchell and the return from concussion of Turbos hooker Sam Stewart, not to mention academy outside back Adam Boult who returned from a shoulder injury for his first game of the year last week.
Varsity will be desperate not to be Te Kawau’s first victim of the second round considering they are sitting eight points out of the top four and are celebrating their 90th anniversary.
The Sky Blues have named a team stacked with talent, none more dangerous than centre Te Rangatira Waitokia.
The lineout battle between Mitchell and fellow Turbo Tom Hughes will be worth keeping an eye on.
The top of the table clash between College Old Boys and Feilding Old Boys-Oroua at Kimbolton has lost some gloss after the hosts named a depleted starting XV.
The Stags are missing a pile of players for the match which has forced coach Aaron Falloon to get creative with his side including leaning on a number of Bs players and playing some regulars out of position.
Among those missing are dangermen Shai Wiperi, Shaq Waara, Ollie Brosnahan and Jamie Perigo along with first five-eighth Layton Manuel and goalkicking halfback Tom Stewart.
Feilding will be stinging after a flat performance last weekend which saw them miss an opportunity to lock up the Jubilee Cup for another season.
They will be looking to bounce back quickly and have named much of the same side.
But they do have promising fullback Drew Wild back this week, while a reshuffle in the pack sees Michael Ioane start at prop and Sean Rankin pack down in the second row.
Ben Wyness needs a big match after a quiet couple of weeks.
Old Boys-Marist managed to name a near full strength side after a week off thanks to Linton Army’s withdrawal from the competition.
Hayden Hill retains the No 10 jersey after impressing in his last match, while the forward pack should be up to Yellows’ challenge.
The most pressure will fall on Nathan Hill and Brad Fountain up front as they attempt to nullify Yellows’ powerful scrum.
Kia Toa will be looking to find their attacking form as they face Freyberg.
They have struggled to find try-scoring form this year and sit sixth in points-for, an usual position for the usually deadly Double Blues.
But they will take plenty of positives from the way their forward pack handled Yellows at the breakdown last week.
Freyberg are still searching for an 80-minute performance, but at least have some points on the board thanks to the reversal of last weekend’s result against Te Kawau due to ineligible players.
Turbos prop Faalelei Sione will start his second match for the club and is joined by the ever dangerous