Grand final week news tidbits

Grand final week news tidbits

Can Drury break their duck this weekend?
The proud Drury Rugby Club will be hoping the rugby gods are smiling on them this weekend as they attempt to break their title drought.

Drury hasn’t managed to win a piece of silverware since 2014 and have come up so close in recent seasons.

Over the past 3-4 seasons Drury have been the class of the field in the Sid Marshall Shield yet they fell at the last hurdle in 2021, losing to Te Kauwhata in the final after winning every game in the season until that point, while they surprisingly lost in the semi-finals last season.

After finishing 2023 in top spot and winning through to the final, they hope to finally get their hands on the Sid Marshall Shield when they face Te Kohanga on Saturday.

Same clubs finding success
We need to tip our hats to the four clubs that made the semi-finals of the McNamara Cup as their success isn’t just limited to their top side.

Karaka, Patumahoe, Pukekohe and Manurewa have enjoyed terrific seasons across the board in 2023, setting up a close battle in the Club of the Year stakes.
Karaka has won the Massey Cup U21 trophy and has teams contesting the final in both Premier and Premier Reserves on Saturday. Their U85kg side made the semi-finals as well.

Patumahoe will contest the Premier Reserves and U85kg finals on Saturday while they were knocked out at the semi-final stage in both Premiers and U21s. Their women’s side also made the semi-finals.

Pukekohe made the semi-finals in Premier, Premier Reserve and U85kg while lost the final of the U21s. Their women’s side were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Manurewa could go back-to-back in the McNamara Cup while they were eliminated in the semi-finals in U21 as were their Premier women’s side.

Seven different clubs in finals
While those clubs deserve credit overall, we have had seven of our 17 clubs make a competition final this season.

Karaka, Manurewa, Patumahoe, Pukekohe, Waiuku, Drury and Te Kohanga have all had at least one of their teams make it to the big dance in their respective grades in what can only be a positive sign for the future.

The emergence of Te Kohanga
The rise of Te Kohanga Rugby has been sudden. A couple of years ago there basically wasn’t any senior rugby at the small rural marae-based club.

Fast forward two seasons and not only have they made the final of the Sid Marshall Shield, they knocked over a Weymouth side in the semi-finals that was playing McNamara Cup a year ago.

Te Kohanga will chase their first ever Sid Marshall Shield title when they face Drury on Saturday.

Their last piece of silverware was won in 2007 when they won the Bill Marsh Cup.

Karaka’s Muli chasing rare double
Karaka’s Nic Muli has the rare chance to earn a McNamara Cup winner’s medal as well as a Massey Cup U21 winner’s medal in the same season.

The talented hooker led his Karaka U21 side to a perfect season in 2023, culminating in their win over Pukekohe in the final.

Straight after finishing that game (playing all 80 minutes), he high tailed it back to Karaka to jump on the reserves bench for his Premier side.

Muli is named to come off the bench in the McNamara Cup final on Saturday.

Patumahoe chase sixth title in nine seasons
Patumahoe have absolutely dominated the U85kg since its inception in Counties Manukau Rugby in 2015 and are chasing a sixth title in the ninth season the competition has been running.

Pukekohe (2019) and Onewhero (2022) have won a title each in the grade while the 2020 season finished without a champion being crowned due to COVID but it has been the blue and golds that have triumphed in every other season (2015-18 and 2021).

They will face a stern test this weekend however – Waiuku have led the competition from the outset and easily won through their semi-final.

Potini has chance to go back-to-back
Te Kohanga coach Tori Potini is hoping to win back-to-back Sid Marshall Shield competitions on Saturday but will attempt to do so wearing different colours this season.

Potini coached Puni to the title 12 months ago but made the off-season move to Te Kohanga and has now powered his new club to the final.
Te Kohanga faces Drury in the decider.

Paumahoe’s Bob Chandler Cup run
Patumahoe has fashioned a phenomenal run in the Bob Chandler Cup Premier Reserves competition over the past five years.

The club won its first ever Premier Reserves title under the coaching of Jamie Bain and Grant Wallis in 2018, when they beat neighbours Pukekohe in the final.

The following year they lost the decider to Ardmore Marist. After 2020 was wiped out due to COVID, the Patumahoe side lost to eventual champions Bombay in the semi-finals in 2021 before lifting the Bob Chandler Cup a second time last season.

They play the same opponents Karaka in this year’s decider.

Second straight McNamara Cup for Roberts
Counties Manukau Rugby Referee and Community Rugby Projects Manager Brandon Roberts has been appointed to officiate his second straight McNamara Cup final.

Roberts controlled last year’s cliffhanger between Manurewa and Patumahoe and will have the whistle for the 2023 edition on Saturday.
Rob Shore and Liam Sargent will be the assistant referees.

Brian Wynne has been given the whistle for the Bob Chandler Cup final, Pat Baucke will control the Sid Marshall Shield decider and Nigel Bradley has the U85kg final.

Manurewa look to get rare back-to-back
Winning a McNamara Cup in successive seasons has become largely a thing of the past in the modern era but Jeremy Clark and his side will aim to be just the fourth club in the past 25 years to achieve the milestone.

Ardmore Marist went back-to-back in 2001-02 while Pukekohe won in consecutive years in 2004-05.

Aside from Bombay’s four-year streak from 2014-17, defending a title has proven a hard thing to do in an era where the best players are scattered across multiple clubs.