Next week is the 84th 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?
Waitaki Boys’ High School
1. Not too bad. We obviously slipped up against St Kevin’s a couple of weeks ago. That hurt the boys a lot, but luckily they get another crack. And as I said to them, there are no second chances in the Blood Match. We played very well against King’s at the weekend. Overall, we’ve been pretty consistent, and that’s always been our aim.
2. We don’t really have one specific strength. I think we’re just a good team. We’re pretty solid, we scrap well, and we don’t like losing.
3. Jake Davies, our young prop, has really come on. He was outstanding last Saturday. Bryden Skinner has led from the front in midfield, and Bayley Sullivan and Sio Taefu have both played well. I think Blake Welsh has had a solid year at lock, along with Oliver Kinzett. Jacob Pledger, as well – his tackle count on Saturday was magnificent.
St Kevin’s College
1. Mixed bag. We’re playing some really nice footy, and we’ve gone to another level with our conditioning. We had a bit of an injury bug for a while, and we’re not sitting where we want to sit in terms of the competition.
2. We’ve got a big, bad forward pack who can also move the ball, so we’ve been able to physically dominate some teams. In the past, that hasn’t been the case. We like to play with pace, and have a crack out wide, and we can look good when we do that.
3. Ramesh Khatri, our wee halfback, has given great service, and he’s so fit he can play every minute of every game and not look tired at the end. He’s worked his butt off and gone to another level. Paea Fifita is so athletic. At times, it looks like he’s not trying very hard but he’s worked incredibly hard. He’s scored some great tries, but even more pleasing is the work he does on defence. And Tupou Fifita is a big prop with a lot of speed. He’s becoming a better rugby player every week, and I can’t speak highly enough of him.