Teams ready for 80th ‘blood match’

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Waitaki Boys’ High School will be intent on regaining the Leo O’Malley Memorial Trophy after losing out last year following five years of holding the coveted prize that is warmly referred to as ‘the peanut’.

Today’s clash will be the 80th of its kind. Waitaki have won 53 of those and St Kevin’s 21, while five have ended in stalemates.

St Kevin’s may have had the more consistent campaign this year, but this fixture has a habit of disregarding form in place of desire.

Waitaki coach Ryan Bambry said the sense of occasion had not affected his side’s preparations.

“(The) boys have prepared well. One more training to go, where we will look to put the finishing touches on a pretty good week,” he said.

“We haven’t prepared any differently from any other games. It’s a game of rugby that we desperately want to win, just like every other game we play.”

In what will be the biggest game that many of the students will be part of, Bambry hopes his team can keep contorl of their emotions and concentrate on the job at hand.

“It’s over to the players now. The team that keeps their emotions in check will increase their chances of winning and we believe we have the boys to be accountable for themselves in that regard.

“This is my first involvement in a blood match so I can’t wait. People tell me everything flies out the window on this day for 70 minutes but we need to stick to plans and don’t let emotions cloud our judgement. It’s pretty simple really.”

Bambry said his side is expecting a difficult encounter, but hoped the challenge would bring the best out of the team.

“St Kevin’s are more than a big challenge, and our boys are fully aware of that, which is comforting as a coach, because you know your boys will be preparing for this task accordingly.”

St Kevin’s College will be looking to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time since a three-peat 1988,89, 90 and the neutral would be forgiven for thinking the holders had a strong chance.

SKC coach Justin Fowler said his team had trained well, aside from some sickness in the camp and insisted his side are focused on the match, not the occasion.

“The boys have prepared well, with the exception of a few that have been sick,” he said.

“While it is a big occasion, we have prepared as we do every week. We have not really focused on the occasion.”

Fowler said he was expecting WBHS to perform well following some well-rounded displays recently.

“We expect Waitaki to be very strong. They have had a good last month or so and appear to be going from strength to strength and they have hit good form at the right time,” he said.

“I would imagine that they will be very confident of a good result on Friday, as they have been playing a good style of rugby and they have some very good players across the park.

“Added to that, we have lost our last two games and struggled to win the one before that, so I would think that they are in a good position.

“It should be a great contest and we are looking forward to it.”

St Kevin’s College:

William Sunderland, Fergus Smith, Kelepi Funaki, Chris Kearney, Keegan Anderson,
Michael Lockley / Jacob Coghlan, Cole Ryan, Filipo Veamatahau, Brodie Flannery, Brady Kingan, Lukairnn Holden, Josh Macauley, Matthew Vocea / Siua Ngalo, Connor Newlands, Alex Collier. Reserves; Liam Perriam, Paea Palaa, Antonio Misiloi
Levi Emery, Scott Weir, Sam Evans.

Waitaki Boys’ High School:

Jake Greenslade (co captain), James Butler, Meli Kolinisau, Josh Hayward, Blake James, Eroni Kivalu, Josh Miller, Hayden James, Kieran McClea, Matt Munro, Cameron McClea, William Saulala, Loni Fisiihoi (co captain), Piliu Tavake,Logan Searle. Reserves; Andrew Morley, Kafa Katoa, Brad Gibb, Jayden Forbes, Jacob Pearce, Scott Paton, Sitafu Vea.

By JAMES FORD

PHOTO: JAMES FORD

PREPARED: Waitaki’s Jake Greenslade and St Kevin’s Jacob Coghlan hold the Leo O’Malley Memorial Trophy.