Counties Energy Club Rugby Finals Day Preview

Counties Energy Club Rugby Finals Day Preview

McNamara Cup Final – Karaka v Manurewa, 3pm at Navigation Homes Stadium #1
The last two winners of the McNamara Cup will go head-to-head on Saturday trying to etch their name onto the famous trophy another time.

Manurewa will look to go back-to-back as they did the last time they won the Cup in the late 1990s while Karaka will be hoping to add a second title to their collection after getting a break-through title two years ago.

Having struggled through the first round, Manurewa had to finish the season strongly just to make the semi-finals, but they did just that.

Given little chance of beating top qualifiers Pukekohe in the semi-finals, Jeremy Clark’s side got the job done in the 80 minutes of rugby that really counts.

Karaka did essentially the same thing in beating Patumahoe at Patumahoe to make their way into the final.

Craig Hill’s side will go in as slight favourites – they’ve scored more tries (76-52), have a better goal-kicking percentage (61%-59%) and have conceded fewer penalties this season (155-160) compared to their grand final opponents.

Karaka’s set piece has put up better numbers too – their scrum operates at 82% compared to Manurewa’s 75% while the Karaka line-out has functioned at 74% as opposed to 69% by Manurewa.

But just like we saw in the semi-finals, it will come down to who gets it right on the day and there are proven match-winners and title-winning talent on both sides.

Round-robin: Karaka 20-14 at Karaka Sports Complex on April 1, Manurewa 29-24 at Mountfort Park on May 20.

Key match-up: Kali Hala v Larenz Thomson. Hala was superb in the semi-final as he steered Karaka around the park and dictated the way his side played. He’ll need to do the same in the final. Thomson has all the skills to beat a team and will be crucial if Manurewa are to go back-to-back.

Referee: Brandon Roberts. Assistants: Rob Shore, Liam Sargent.

Bob Chandler Cup Final – Patumahoe v Karaka, 1pm at Navigation Homes Stadium #1
In a replay of last year’s final, Patumahoe will be chasing back-to-back wins in what is their fourth visit to the big dance in the past five attempts.

Karaka will take plenty of heart out of the fact they beat Patumahoe, who had been unbeaten until that stage, just a fortnight ago.

They will have plenty of support in the stands too with their Premier side set to appear in the following game.

Round-robin: Patumahoe 46-22 at Patumahoe Domain on May 13, Karaka 20-14 at Karaka Sports Complex on July 1.

Referee: Brian Wynne. Assistants: John Wright, Puni Ti Ringa.

Sid Marshall Shield Final – Drury v Te Kohanga, 3pm at Navigation Homes Stadium #2
Drury will get another chance to lift the Sid Marshall Shield having come up short in the decider two years ago, when they lost the final after coming in with a perfect record. They bowed out in the semi-finals last year having dominated the round robin.

They come up against a Te Kohanga side that has got better and better all season and will more than challenge their opponents.

The small rural club beat Weymouth in an historic semi-final last week to book their spot and an epic final awaits.

Round-robin: Drury 21-12 at Drury Domain on May 6.

Referee: Pat Bauke. Assistants: Stu Girvan, Paul Snaddon.

U85kg Final – Waiuku v Patumahoe, 1pm at Massey Park, Papakura
The two neighbours square off in what should be a terrific final with both teams pressing their claims with strong form in recent weeks.

Waiuku finished the season as top qualifiers and easily accounted for Pukekohe in the semi-finals but Patumahoe have won five of the seven championships played in this grade and improved as the season went on.

Round-robin: Waiuku 27-17 at Rugby Park on April 22.

Referee: Nigel Bradley. Assistants: Blair Tribe, Jacques Beukman.