Next week is the 83rd Blood Match, the annual First XV clash between St Kevin’s College and Waitaki Boys’ High School. Hayden Meikle clocks in with the respective coaches and asks them:
1. How is your team tracking this year?
2. Where are your strengths?
3. Can you pick out some players who have been leading the way?
St Kevin’s College
1. We’ve been really good in everything apart from the results. We’ve broken out of a lot of bad habits, we’ve changed the way we train, we’ve changed the way we prepare, and we’re taking a much more modern approach to our rugby. We just haven’t had a lot of reward in terms of results. But it’s been an incredibly positive year.
2. On attack, the speed we play with has only got faster as the year has gone on, as we’ve got used to a new approach. So definitely our attack has been our strength.
3. Ben McCarthy has been excellent all year. For him to be this good already is pretty exciting for next year. Frem Bootsan has been the find of the season. He’s incredibly combative and he really enjoys the game. In the forwards, Tama Wooldridge is a natural leader and is getting better every week, and Korey Patrick is a workhorse who just never stops going.
Waitaki Boys’ High School
1. The points table in our competition has been interesting. We’ve been the second or third best defensive team, but we’ve got a bit to work on in terms of attack. Finishing off those opportunities that arise is a big focus. We’re quite a new team, and a young team. We’ve won five and lost four, so I’d have to give them a pass mark, if not a bit more. I can’t fault their determination.
2. Our scrum has been very good, and our lineout has been not too bad. And defensively, across the park, we’ve fronted up.
3. You can’t go past Pete Armstrong up front. He’s been brilliant, week in and week out. Paddy Henwood has led from the front. In the backs, Bayley Sullivan has been one of the big improvers of the season, and Sione Alofi has shown some of his attacking ability.