A rather interesting weekend with the end of the first round in sight.
Athletic Marist made the biggest statement, roaring back from a halftime deficit to thump Excelsior 45-19. It was a second straight win for Athletic, which seems ready to deliver on its promising after an underwhelming start to the season.
Valley also made its presence felt in a cracking rural derby against Maheno at Weston.
Both sides played their part in a compelling physical battle and scored nice tries, but Valley’s ball retention was excellent and it deserved its 25-20 win.
Old Boys racked up a relatively straightforward 31-6 win over gutsy but winless Kurow, and followed that with a demolition job of Valley in the rescheduled game on Tuesday.
Scoring nine tries to none, Old Boys ran away after halftime to a 53-0 win, and the men in black already have a nine-point lead after a month.
South Canterbury rugby has nixed the concept of a “battle of the champions”, at least this season.
Hopefully, in future years, we will get to see an annual clash between the Citizens Shield and Hamersley Cup winners.
As for a return to the glory days of the Aoraki combined competition, well, that seems as unlikely as ever. Those across the border insist they are only interested if all six North Otago clubs can field senior B teams, and that is virtually impossible these days.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Maene Mapusaga continued his cracking form for Old Boys and Soni Tongotongo had a storming game on Tuesday, Mark Roney and Brad McKenzie combined superbly in the five-eighths for Valley in its first game, and Hayden Tisdall and Lachie Kingan produced shining moments for Maheno.
Has to be an Athies man this week, though. Folau Tokai is a schoolboy but ineligible to play for St Kevin’s College in anything but interschools, so he rubs shoulders with the men every week.
The halfback turned flanker is packed with power and bustled his way to two tries in the win over Blues.
“We just freestyle it sometimes. We’ve got a few game plans but when someone gets the ball, they do whatever they want, and that’s the way we roll. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. We’re very happy. We set some goals at the start of the year and we’re ticking off the boxes. I think we’re building a squad that can do well.” – Ralph Darling (Old Boys)
The last couple of rounds have been disrupted – and next weekend will presumably be all over the show thanks to duck-shooting – but this weekend features a simple draw.
Valley hosts a second straight rural derby, against Kurow, and there are (gasp) back-to-back games at Whitestone Contracting Stadium, where Athletic plays Maheno before Old Boys host Excelsior. Talk about a rare treat.