A game almost 11 months in the making features as the Counties Power Game of the Week as Premier 3 arch rivals Maramarua and Te Kauwhata do battle at Te Kauwhata Memorial Domain on Saturday.
The two rural clubs squared off in the championship finale last season, which proved to be an epic contest that eventually went Maramarua’s way.
Both clubs have enjoyed or endured longer off seasons than normal due to the Covid-19 disruption that prevented the start of the Sid Marshall Shield Premier 3 competition.
For the home side, that meant an elongated period of smarting after last season’s result.
“It will be a great motivating factor,” coach Evan Pinny said. “It hurts a lot of players that played in that final. It will certainly hit our guys and they are itching to get back into it for this game.”
The two neighbouring clubs share a storied history and have united along with Onewhero to form the Te Marawhero combined side that has played regularly over the years.
Each of the clubs represents a central part of their community and the games between the clubs are always fiercely fought.
Maramarua coach Toko Whare said they relish that rivalry.
“It goes back to the early 70s when this rivalry started,” he explained. “It is a fierce rivalry and, because of the competition between the three clubs, the concept of Te Marawhero was created and it was just another avenue for rugby to be played.
“We always look forward to that challenge.”
Pinny thinks there are some natural similarities between the clubs that have enhanced the competition between the two sides.
“It is two country clubs getting together,” he said. “There is a lot of camaraderie between the two and that history goes back a long way.
“There is a gumboot up for grabs that Maramarua actually hold at the moment.”
Te Kauwhata club president Mario Vodanovich will reach a significant milestone in the contest as he plays his 200th senior game for the southern most club in the province.
“It is a real big occasion,” Pinny said. “It is quite a big milestone. I have played over 200 games for the club and it is a big thing. There are a few of us that have done that and it does mean a bit.
“Hopefully we put in a good performance for him.”
The Te Kauwhata club has high hopes for the 2020 season and made a good start to their Premier 3 campaign with a win over Patumahoe Village Bar and Kitchen in the opening week.
“We are good for numbers this season,” Pinny confirmed. “We have good numbers with the Premier 3 side and we have entered an U85s team as well so the club is looking good.”
Puni host Patumahoe while Tuakau travels to Drury in the other Premier 3 fixtures this weekend.
In McNamara Cup Premier 1 action unbeaten Karaka hosts defending champions Bombay in what should be a fascinating contest at Karaka Sports Complex. Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel and Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega square off in a classic local derby at Patumahoe Domain while Papakura hosts Waiuku Brian James Contracting at Massey Park. Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors are back home at Bruce Pulman Park against Manurewa Kidd Contracting in yet another local derby while Onewhero Summit Homes has the bye.
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