The Ponsonby Premiers will open their 2016 season in the Alan McEvoy Memorial Championship on Saturday afternoon, hosting College Rifles.

At stake for the first time is the Comradery Cup, donated by club stalwart and Premier centurion -Sam Lawrence, who sustained a career ending injury when these two sides met in round robin play in 2015.

The season for the blue and blacks commenced on the 16th of March in the Waka Nathan Cup, Ponsonby going down to a belligerent Pakuranga side by 37-17. Pakuranga crossed for seven tries, and had their goal kickers enjoyed a better afternoon, the score could have been considerably higher. Following this loss, Ponsonby played two ‘warm-up’ matches, firstly against Grammar-Tec when they were edged by 18-12. Last week Ponsonby put in an almost flawless display against University, demolishing the students by 64-14, scoring ten tries in the rout, the backs contributing eight of these. University had no answer for the pace at which Ponsonby played the match, and struggled with the sublime skills that Ponsonby presented.

The 2016 Ponsonby Premier side has a very exciting and youthful look, with six players named in the starting XV against College Rifles to make their debut for the club. Five of these players feature in what is a promising backline. Charlie Hubert and Joe Beckett hail from the UK, Campbell Woodmass has made the move from Wellington, Patrick Tausie will line up against his old club, Rifles, and Blues squad member Jordan Trainor will wear the number 15 jersey. The pack sees the former Marist lock, Jamie Lane, making his first official start for the blue and blacks.

The Alan McEvoy Memorial Shield competition sees the same format adopted as last year, with Ponsonby in a pool of eight sides, competing in a seven week competition. At the completion of the seven matches, the top four qualifiers with join with the top four finalists from the opposing pool of eight sides, and these eight teams will compete in the Gallaher Shield qualifying round

The second round of the Alan McEvoy sees Ponsonby travel to Ferguson Park to tackle Te Papapa-Onehunga, then the following week. The amalgamation which saw Maungarua in competition in recent seasons has disbanded, and Te Papapa Onehunga and Mt Wellington have now both returned to premier rugby as their individual clubs.

Following the Te Papapa-Onehunga fixture, Ponsonby will face Eden, Grammar-Tec, Pakuranga, Manukau Rovers and Otahuhu – the Eden and Manukau games being played at home, and the others being away.

PONSONBY:1.  Alex Matapo; 2. Romero Tagi; 3. Marco Fepuleai; 4. Leo Ngahe; 5. Jamie Lane; 6. Anthony Diack 7. Waha Waitohi; 8. Presley Tufuga; 9. Cambell Woodmass; 10.Charlie Hubert; 11.Joe Beckett 12. Patrick Tausie; 13. Pryor Collier; 14. Junior Cagiaceva; 15. Jordon Trainor 16. Phil Viane; 17. Steve Savali; 18. Sam Slade; 19. Willis Hopwood; 20. Roger Tuamoheloa 21. Willie Gibbons; 22. Freedom Vaha’akolo