Round Three of the Canterbury Metro Senior Rugby competition will see some mouth-watering matchups in what is expected to be heavy conditions after the wet weather that has hampered Christchurch this week.
The battle of the Universities will be an intriguing one as the teams will wrestle for both the DCL Shield and Hart/O’Reilly Trophy out at Lincoln while Christchurch and New Brighton will lock horns once again, a matchup that is becoming a true rivalry and a reinvigorated Sydenham coming up against the undefeated Shirley.
Lincoln coach, Alex Robertson and his counterpart, Nigel Smith from University know each other well after coaching Country Rugby together which makes for an interesting battle on the side-line as well as on the field.
Robertson is happy with his teams start to the 2020 season which has seen his side start with maximum points after two rounds. “The boys have put in some really good performances over the last couple of weeks.”
Robertson admitted there is always a “friendly rivalry” when the “only two Universities” in Christchurch meet. “We will approach this game like we approach any other.”
George Bell and Seb Calder were hailed by Robertson as players to watch. The two under 18 players are likely to feature off the bench. Despite Robertson naming Bell and Calder specifically he also added that Lincoln are lucky to be able to gain access to quality players.
John Borland will make his 50th appearance for Lincoln and Robertson stressing that his team wanted to make sure he comes off the park with a win.
A stunning win for University last weekend adds some spice to this one with a feeling that the Canterbury students might be at the start of something special. “We would like to emulate what Lincoln have done with recruitment” according to Smith although mentioning that Lincoln were several years ahead of his group in that area.
Smith agreed with Robertson regarding the matchup admitting it is just another game and they would also prepare as they normally would. “Our focus is to play to our potential and keep working together. This week is another step in our learning.”
Fergus Burke will again be available for University and did a great job at running the team’s session on Thursday night. The experience of Patrick Osbourne will again be invaluable.
Christchurch v New Brighton at Christchurch Park
The red and blacks lose Quintin Strange, Tom Christie and Dallas McLeod to Crusaders duty in Dunedin this weekend despite McLeod only travelling. New Brighton will lose inspirational captain Troy Mangan with injury with Logan Bell stepping in to lead the seasiders.
Belfast v Marist at Sheldon Park
Belfast are in a rebuilding stage after losing a couple of their squad to other clubs but Mpho Mbiyozo remains positive about what the future holds for his Cobras. Marist prop, Henry Allen will play his 50th match for the club.
Linwood v Burnside at Linfield Park
The Haydn Smith Memorial Trophy is up for grabs. Samson Seinafo will suit up for game number 50 for the Bulls. Burnside will start young lock Zach Gallagher and are looking forward to watching him grow into his position. Brent Frew is excited by the “bigger” forward pack that Burnside have on offer this season but admits that the squad are still learning their roles in some respects under Bevan Sisson.
Sydenham v Shirley at Sydenham Park
Sydenham will be buoyed by a last-minute win last week. NZ Secondary Schools player Max Hughes makes his first start after featuring off the bench in the opening two rounds. NZ Sevens rep, Amanaki Nicole will return from injury while Brodie McAllister and Harry Allen will both feature for Sydenham. Shirley will be aiming to keep their perfect record intact with the conditions likely to suit the forwards it could play into their hands after two dominate performances from their men up front.
Old Boys v Sumner at Bob Deans
The defending champions have started with a 0-2 record after losses to Lincoln and Shirley. The Wave will look to go back-to-back after a hard-fought win against Belfast last weekend.
All matches will kick off at 2.45pm.