The final match of the first round of the Auckland club rugby competition sees the Ponsonby Premiers travel south to Sturges Park to face the bottom placed team in the group, Otahuhu.
Ponsonby start this match after a tight encounter with Manukau Rovers last Saturday, but emerged the victors by 21-20. Otahuhu on the other hand were soundly downed by Eden by 59-0 in the same round.
Otahuhu have had nothing short of a wretched start to the club year, scoring a total of 28 points and conceding 397 points from the six matches to date. Otahuhu has unfortunately been on the receiving end of some hidings, including 100 points by Pakuranga, 77 by College Rifles and 70 by Manukau Rovers. In those three matches alone, Otahuhu scored only 17 points.
Ponsonby last played Otahuhu on the 17th of May 2014 at Western Springs, brushing them aside by 55-7.
The last time that Ponsonby ventured to Sturges Park to do battle with Otahuhu was in the third round of the competition, on the 20th of April 2013, Ponsonby emerging the victors by 26-10.
Incredibly, only one member of the starting XV for Ponsonby that day in 2013 (Chanel Vito) features in the squad for Saturdays match. Vito was also handed the captaincy role for this Saturday’s fixture. The 2016 Premier head coach, Peter Leuluso’o, also featured in the 2013 match with Otahuhu, wearing the number 12 jersey that day.
Despite the prospect of a soft field thanks to the wet, wintry weather conditions in the past week it is unlikely that Otahuhu will cause Ponsonby too much grief on Saturday. But the blue and blacks will be seeking a flawless performance as they approach the next competition, a round that possesses little opportunity for inaccuracy.
A number of changes were made to the XV that started the previous encounter, and opportunities were given to several of the wider squad members to join the match day 22.
The Premiers feature on the main ground at Sturges Park at 2.45pm, whilst the Premier Reserves who are unbeaten in the season to date play in the curtain-raiser, kicking off at 1.00pm.
1. Junior Halafuka; 2. Steven Savali; 3. Marco Fepu’leai; 4. Leo Ngahe; 5. Presley Tufuga; 6. Pale Pasina; 7. Willis Hopwood; 8. Chanel Vito; 9. Laki Tiatia; 10.Morrison Siliko; 11. Aleni Ropati; 12. Keenan Masina; 13. Patrick Tausie; 14.Joseph Beckett; 15. Charlie Hubert; 16. Herman Huch; 17. Willie Uili; 18. Ben Bacon; 19. Ji Young Lee; 20. Campbell Woodmass; 21. Robert Sanele; 22. Chico Huch