The Oamaru Liquorland Citizens Shield final is upon us as Old Boys prepare to defend their title for a fourth successive year and Athletic Marist look to end an era of dominance.
Old Boys secured a place in this year’s final by downing Valley 16-9 in dismal conditions at last Saturday’s semi-final at the Whitestone Contracting Stadium.
Valley initially looked the more lively of the two sides, putting the holders under pressure.
Despite the early promise, the sloppy conditions favoured Old Boys’ running game against a side that has depended on the kicking of fullback Brad McKenzie for much this campaign, but Athies will fight fire with fire.
Both sides possess explosive pace and physical prowess in a season that has seen the head-to-heads produce a win each and a draw.
Old Boys manager Warren Bloxsom said his players were prepared for a tough encounter.
“Athies are going to be hard,” he said.
“It’s like a test match every time against them. We’re looking pretty confident for our fourth shield.”
Athies booked their final place through a tightly-contested victory over Excelsior last weekend, with Ben Palmer kicking the all-important penalty at the death for a 13-10 victory.
Athies backs coach Jon Sinclair said his players were confident with key personnel available to topple Old Boys.
“We’re confident. We’re as close to putting out the same team as we did when we beat them,” he said.
” We’re not intimidated by them. I think Old Boys have a mental edge over a lot of the teams because of their physicality. We can stand up to that and not be bullied.
“I think we play a more structured game than Old Boys. We’re prepared to stand up to them but I think having a lot of our big boys away for the game we lost to them, they did bully us.
“If we play our structures and play our game, I think it will be irrelevant how Old Boys play.”
Saturday’s Oamaru Liquorland Citizens Shield final:
Old Boys vs Athletic Marist, Whitestone Contracting Stadium, 3pm.
By JAMES FORD