A first up win and Waiuku Brian James Contracting’s ability to get up for a clash with a neighbour has one of the McNamara Cup heavyweights worried heading into week two.
Waiuku stunned 2018 semifinalists Karaka in the opening round and set up an intriguing Counties Power Game of the Week against Patumahoe Troydon Patumahoe Hotel at Patumahoe Domain on Saturday.
The two sides found themselves at opposite ends of the McNamara Cup standings last year with Patumahoe losing an extra-time thriller in the championship final while Waiuku had to work to avoid the wooden spoon.
But Patumahoe coach Reon Graham is expecting a real battle as Waiuku makes the short journey over to their neighbouring club this week.
“Anytime we play Waiuku it has been tough,” Graham said. “The two times we played them last year we needed the full 80 minutes if not more to get over the line against them.
“It is always tough against them whether you have them in the first round or second round in the cold wind out at their home ground.
“They have a good solid team and had a good second half of the season last year.”
First year Waiuku coach Lawrence Lawrence was delighted to pick up an upset win in the opening week and ease any pressure on his side but he also knows that neither his side nor Karaka were able to really showcase their skills in a scrappy first performance of the season.
Waiuku has a tough schedule in the early stages and Lawrence insists they must focus on their own performance rather than getting too technical.
“For us it is about us progressing,” he said. “We are obviously happy with the win but there were a lot of errors in terms of our shape and stuff we didn’t quite get to well enough.
“The first month is about worrying about ourselves and not so much about who we are playing. We do have a big run in front of us and we understand that so it is about getting our game together first and foremost.”
Lawrence expects a tougher challenge at Patumahoe this week.
“They looked sharp in terms of the way they play,” he admitted.
Meanwhile Graham was pleased with how his side faired against Onewhero Silver Fern Marquees as they grabbed a five-try bonus point and never looked troubled.
He wants his side to concentrate on one key area this week.
“Just to keep improving on our defense,” Graham said. “We put a bit of time into attack but defense is what is going to win you games at the end of the day I believe.”
In other matches Pukekohe Mitre 10 Mega begins their campaign with a trip to Karaka Sports Complex to tackle a Karaka side smarting from their first up loss.
Opening week winners Bombay host Papakura Ray White at Bombay Domain while Onwhero travel north to face defending champions Ardmore Marist South Auckland Motors at Bruce Pulman Park.
Manurewa Kidd Contracting has a bye.