Huge games to kick off Sid Marshall Shield

Huge games to kick off Sid Marshall Shield

The Sid Marshall Shield Premier 3 competition gets underway with a couple of massive contests in the opening round this weekend.

Defending champions Puni come up against former coach Tori Potini when they host Te Kohanga at Puni in the Counties Energy Game of the Week.

Meanwhile the annual Gumboot Challenge between Te Kauwhata and Maramarua takes place at Te Kauwhata Sports Ground.

Both games will carry a bit more than just a battle for competition points – they would have been fixtures all sides would have specifically looked for when the draw came out.

Puni and Te Kohanga will play for the coveted Blackie Cooper Memorial Trophy.

“The first game of the season is always big no matter what grade you play but I guess both being small, proud clubs and having the Blackie Cooper Memorial Trophy on the line, there’s a lot to play for,” Puni player-coach Sam Cole told Counties Sports Hub.

“Club pride and a few boys from our team last year have gone to play for Te Kohanga this year, so it would be good to get one up on the whanau from down the river.

“The relationship between the two clubs is pretty much kill each other on the field and have hongi and a beer off the field when its all said and done.

“I guess a lot of us old boys from both teams have played a lot of rugby together but on the same team through reps and Maori rugby etc.”

Puni have the unique experience of going out to play this season as defending champions.

“Winning the comp last year was amazing for the club but that was last year so we are under no illusion this season will be very tough,” Cole said.

“We’ve had a few players move on so a different squad from last year, also teams will want to knock over last year’s champs so every game will be a battle.”

Te Kohanga will rely on some seasoned veterans and stack of young players this season.

“Our side has a lot of young talent mixed with old boys who want to give back to our community,” said Te Kohanga coach Potini.

“On a personal level, I’m just happy to be part of both clubs and this game, win or lose.

“The game itself is the reason why we all coach.”

Weymouth begin life back in the Sid Marshall Shield Premier 3 competition with a home match against Waiuku at Laurie Gibbons Field.

Tuakau hosts Drury while Onewhero travels to Patumahoe Domain to face Patumahoe.

Manurewa has the opening round bye.

Ardmore Marist threw the Bob Chandler Cup Premier Reserves competition wide open last weekend when they held Pukekohe to a 20-all draw.

They face a tough task at Karaka while Pukekohe host Bombay and Papakura travels to Patumahoe.

Defending Massey Cup U21 champions Karaka host newcomers Ardmore Marist while Pukekohe heads north to play old foes Manurewa at Mountfort Park.

Patumahoe and Papakura battle it out at Patumahoe in the final match of the round.

The U85kg competition kicks off this week with defending champions Onewhero hosting Waiuku in a replay of last year’s competition final.

Beachlands Maraetai begin their season at home at Te Puru Park, where they host Papakura while Karaka hosts Patumahoe in a battle of last year’s two beaten semi-finalists.

Ardmore Marist and Drury square off at Pulman Park in a battle of the two newcomers to the grade.