Two desperate sides will fight for their first McNamara Cup win of the season when Papakura Thirsty Liquor faces newcomers Weymouth in the Counties Power Game of the Week at Massey Park in Papakura on Saturday.
They went agonisingly close to beating reigning McNamara Cup champions Bombay at home last weekend and so pleased with their performance, Papakura sung their team song afterwards.
“We had a stalwart come into our shed on Saturday and told us that while we don’t usually sing our song when we lose he was just so proud of how the boys went today – they showed a lot of courage and commitment – so he said we are going to sing our team song,” Papakura coach Kerry Petrie said.
It has been no secret that Papakura, once a competition heavyweight, has spent a long time in the doldrums. At times they have shown progress and been on the brink of a break-through but the McNamara Cup is a ruthless and tough competition and things have fallen away again.
Petrie knows the task is not easy but also not insurmountable.
“It has been a real challenge but the boys are coming together nicely,” he said. “There is a fantastic buzz around the club.
“Unfortunately we don’t have a P2 team so we are one squad now but the boys are connecting well.
“We know where we have been, we know where we are at and collectively, as a group, we know where we want to get to.
“We don’t have a scoreboard focus – it is about moments. What excited us after the game on Saturday is that we won a lot of those moments we hadn’t won the week before.
“There has been growth and the growth continues.
“We haven’t reached our ceiling and that is really exciting.”
They run into a Weymouth side that has come into the premiership at the 11th hour. They’ve had two big scores run up against them but in a really encouraging sign, the Weymouth players have been just as committed and competitive in the 80th minute as in the first.
“We are fully aware Weymouth are new to prem rugby but they have also had two weeks of it,” Petrie said. “They would have learned a lot about that level of footy.
“They are a big squad, they are physical and we have to be on our game to nullify the strengths that they bring.
“It won’t be a scoreboard focus – if we tick a few boxes defensively and nail a few moments we didn’t achieve against Bombay then hopefully the scoreboard will be a positive outcome for us.”
Weymouth are learning to be a premier side while playing against teams are used to playing at that level and so the learning curve is steep.
Coach Tai Masters is pleased with a lot of his side’s effort in the opening couple of weeks but is realistic with where they are at as well.
“We have got a long way to go,” Masters said.
“Our goal this week is around our defense, ball security and patience.”
The match will be livestreamed on the Counties Manukau Rugby Facebook page and Masters thinks that is a real novelty his side is looking forward to.
“The boys are excited. It will be the first time any of these boys have been recorded playing rugby and so it will be a great experience for them.
“Most the boys can’t wait.”
Top of the table Karaka heads to Colin Lawrie Fields in Pukekohe to tackle Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega, who are coming off their first win of the season.
Unbeaten Bombay Super Freight hosts Manurewa Kidd Contracting. The 2019 reigning champions will be tested by a Manurewa side that is tipped by many to be the side to beat this season.
Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors hosts Onewhero, fresh off their centenary celebrations, at Bruce Pulman Park while Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel heads to Rugby Park in Waiuku to meet Waiuku Land & Sea Civil.
The Premier Reserve competition gets underway this weekend as well with Pukekohe host Karaka, Bombay Pokeno Bacon at home to Manurewa Wise Property Management and Patumahoe Dave Redshaw Electrical heading to Bruce Pulman Park to play Ardmore Marist Barfoot & Thompson.
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