Teams set for First XV ties

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St Kevin’s College are Dunedin-bound to face King’s High School tomorrow while Waitaki travel to Wanaka to lock horns with Mt Aspiring College in their Highlanders First XV top eight clash.

Both Oamaru sides were beaten in round four, with Waitaki Boys’ falling 30-17 to a well-organised King’s outfit, and St Kevin’s losing out 55-5 to Southland Boys’ High.

WBHS will take some solace from their fine second half performance. Ryan Bambry’s side trailed 18-0 at the break but rallied in the second half with three tries.

Bambry said his players had prepared well this week and now had a different target, with a top four place out of reach.

“Training has been good this week,” he said.

“Now that we’re out of top four, we’ve had to change focus and got a few new goals and getting a win this week is very important.”

The Waitaki coach said his side would need to contain Mt Aspiring’s fast-breaking backs and take charge of the forward battle.

“We’ve played our best rugby this year away from home so it’s good to be heading away again, to be honest,” he said.

“Aspiring have a very good back line from all reports, so they’ll definitely be looking to take us on up front to get their backs quality ball.”

SKC’s 55-5 scoreline in Invercargill did not truly reflect the full contest, with Southland holding a mere 7-5 advantage at half-time before producing what St Kevin’s coach Justin Fowler described as “one of the best halves of rugby” he had witnessed, to notch 48 unanswered points in the second half.

Fowler said his side had trained well this week but was anticipating a testing tie in Dunedin.

“Training this week has been good and we have focused on a couple of areas where we are looking to improve on from the game against Southland,” he said.

“King’s have had a very good season and I hear that they are very strong up front and their big forwards lead the way both at scrum time and with ball in hand.

“I would expect they will continue to use their forwards as they look to punch through our defensive line.

“We have focused on one particular new area of our game that we intend to use against King’s and Otago Boys’ the following week. We ┬ábelieve that this will be beneficial to us and we will see how well we execute this plan.”

St Kevin’s will be missing some key personnel in powerhouse props Kelpi Funaki and Paea Palaa.

“Unfortunately, we have a couple of injury concerns, with two of our props injured. Kelpi Funaki is out for a few weeks with an ankle injury and Paea Palaa is a doubtful starter with an ankle injury as well,” said Fowler.

“This is obviously not ideal when you are coming up against a team whose game is built around their forwards and especially around a powerful front row.”

Both sides will kick off at 1pm.

By JAMES FORD

PHOTO: JAMES FORD – Paea Palaa will not feature for St Kevin’s after suffering and ankle injury.