Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors and Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel will square off Saturday for the McNamara Cup at Navigation Homes Stadium in Pukekohe, 2.45pm kick off.
The two top sides from round robin play have made it through to the championship final with both looking to finish off phenomenal seasons for their respective clubs.
Ardmore Marist has been the leading side in Premier 1 all season. After dropping their opening match of the season they have lost just once – a dead rubber game against a desperate Karaka side late in the second round. Their for and against was more than 300 points better than their nearest rival, showcasing just how dominant first-year coach Doug Sanft’s side has been in 2018.
“It is an awesome achievement but I never take any credit for what the players do,” Sanft said. “I put the team first.”
Ardmore Marist had their Premier 2 side narrowly miss the semifinals while their Under 21s lost in the semis last week. Sanft said the club has been rebuilding as a whole and they are starting to see some real traction.
“[The club] is building because of the players we have got and the culture we have got.”
He has a tough job of selecting a side to take the field in the final given the number of rep players that have come back into the mix combined with the players that helped get the side to the final.
“It is always hard when everyone is playing good but as a coach you have to understand that and make those tough decisions,” Sanft said. “It is hard to go and talk to the players that miss out but you have to do it.”
Patumahoe will look to win their fourth McNamara Cup and first since 2012 having narrowly beaten Manurewa in injury time in the Premier 1 semifinal last week.
Reon Graham’s side has made a habit of coming up clutch at the end of games this season and will look to call upon that as they face a side they’ve lost to twice already this season.
“We are really close and tight team and we have had to do it the hard way a few times this year with injury but they just keep playing for each other.
“We have really got to do a bit more homework on then, bring the same ticker and we’ve just got to turn up ready to play a one-off game of football and see what happens.
“They have a very good side across the paddock and they will go in as favourites obviously but we will throw everything at them and make them work for it.”
Patumahoe has enjoyed a terrific season as a club. They qualified for the semifinals in all four grades with three of their sides progressing to the finals.
“It says something about the club – good depth across the teams and good coaching across the teams,” Graham said.
Sanft knows about the culture at Patumahoe – he won a title with them as a player in 2009.
“I expect nothing less than them being a great side,” he said. “I know we have beaten them the last few times we have played but that means nothing in a final. I think it will come down to whoever wants it more on the day.”
Patumahoe Dave Redshaw Electrical will look to set the tone for their top side as they take on top qualifiers Pukekohe Franklin Long Roofing in the Premier 2 final, played on Navigation Homes Stadium number two.
Pukekohe topped the standings for most of the season, enjoying a terrific opening round before dropping a few games in the second round. But they righted the ship towards the end of the season, finished top and managed to see off the challenge from Karaka last weekend.
Patumahoe enjoyed a superb second round, beating a number of the higher ranked teams to qualify for the semifinals. They split the two contests against Pukekohe and will carry hot form into the game having put 50 points on Manurewa Wise Property Management in the semifinals away from home last week.
The game kicks off at 1pm.
Weymouth will look to score their second-straight Premier 3 title as they face Te Kauwhata on Navigation Homes Stadium at 1pm. Weymouth have lost only once in the past two seasons and will be strong favourites as they continue to harbour ambitions to return to Premier 1 in the coming seasons.
The side that knocked them over in that span however was Te Kauwhata and they will be highly-motivated to cause an upset. Whakawhiti Kingi will play his 100th match for the club and his team will be fired up to give him the ultimate honour.
Pukekohe’s under 21 side topped the standings in round robin and lost only once on their way to the championship final. But that loss came against the Karaka side they will meet in the decider. The two sides were easily the dominant forces in the grade this season and will square off for the Massey Cup at Bruce Pulman Park from 1pm.
Patumahoe Pak N Save will shoot for their fourth-successive championship in the Under 85kg grade but will get a stern test from a Karaka side that is the only one to have bettered them in 2018. Karaka, last year’s losing finalists, got some revenge in the first round but Patumahoe bounced back to win the second round contest, setting up a thrilling decider.
The game kicks off at 11am at Pulman Park.