Two tight tussles and one big blow out – who will claim this year’s Citizens Shield is anybody’s guess.
Saturday was opening day of the North Otago premier rugby season.
In Oamaru, the double-header provided two vastly different results. Old Boys scored a mammoth 75-12 win over Excelsior, and Valley only just held on to beat Athletic Marist 41-40.
Under the new lights at Kurow, Maheno clinched the win 21-20 from the home side in front of a big crowd.
Maheno had a solid start, taking a 21-7 lead into the break, but Kurow stepped it up a notch and packed on the points in the second half.
Its second half defence kept Maheno from getting over the line again, but it was not enough to push it towards the win.
Valley came out of the gate well against Athies, leading 28-21 at halftime.
However, the country side was unable to shake a determined Athies team that stuck with it and pushed Valley right to the very end.
Athies looked well drilled and stuck together, proving the team could be on the up this season.
Old Boys was at its absolute best – dominant in all areas of the park against Excelsior. Halfback Mataitini Feke led the charge, scoring four tries, and second five-eighth Lemi Masoe grabbed two.
Old Boys coach Robbie Breen said Feke set the tone, and was a class operator.
“He’s dynamic – he can run and gun, and he’s got a lot of experience.”
No 8 Junior Fakatoufifita was impressive on his debut for the club, and centre Sione Faaoso was also lethal.
The team strung together some nice phases of rugby, making Breen a very happy man.
“Just the overall energy, and the pictures that we were painting were pretty good. We stuck to our shape and had a lot of fun doing it as well.”
Excelsior lost both its experienced loose forwards, Matt Duff and Tayne Russell, to knee and hand injuries early on.
Seven players were on debut for the club, and coach Hamish McKenzie said there were still plenty of positives to take from the game.
“It’s a really awful way to kind of get experience. It was a big learning curve for the guys, but the real pleasing thing was that while we were outgunned week one, they stuck at it,” McKenzie said.
“It’s a good chance for us to flush that game. The result is the result – we’ve just got to get on with it. I’m always of the philosophy you don’t win a competition [in] week one.”
The Waitaki Wahine had a tough 55-5 loss against a dominant Otago University side in Oamaru.
The Wahine put on a better performance in the second half, only letting two tries in.
A week before, the team had a fantastic opening match, beating Green Island 22-0.
Earlier this week, the team travelled to Kurow and had a good training session under the new lights in preparation for tomorrow’s game against Pirates at Whitestone Contracting Stadium at 12.45pm.
Old Boys will make the trip up the Waitaki Valley and take on Kurow at home tomorrow.
After its big statement in the opening round, Breen said the team would focus on its own game, rather than Kurow’s.
“We’re looking for a lot of energy early on. They’ve got an experienced 10 and 12 who drive them around the paddock quite well, so it’s just creating pressure and being really ruthless when we get opportunities,” he said.
Valley was to host Excelsior in Weston tomorrow, but Blues have defaulted.
Maheno takes on Athletic Marist at home tonight. Kick off is at 7.30pm.