This Saturday afternoon the Ponsonby Premiers play Suburbs in one of the two sudden death Gallaher Shield semi-finals, the match being played at Shadbolt Park in Green Bay.
Ponsonby have not won the prestigious trophy since 2011, but have been involved in the quarter or semi-finals in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Since their inception in 1918 Suburbs have only won the Gallaher Shield on two occasions, the first being in 1977 and then the second in 1992.
Ponsonby last featured in the Gallaher Shield semi-finals in 2014, going down to University at Colin Maiden Park by 44-11.
They featured in the coveted trophy quarter-finals back in 2013, playing Suburbs at Shadbolt Park. On that afternoon Ponsonby were edged by Suburbs by 25-22. Of the 22 man squad that travelled to Shadbolt Park for the fixture, only Leo Ngahe remains in the 2016 line up.
In 2012 Ponsonby exited the semi-finals after going down to Marist by 20-3.
The blue and blacks narrowly missed out on a home ground advantage in this week’s semi-final when they went down to College Rifles last Saturday by 22-21 after leading by 18-0 at halftime. In the same round Suburbs were too strong for Pakuranga, scoring five tries in their 34-5 victory, including 22 unanswered second half points.
Suburbs and Ponsonby played a competition match just two weeks ago, Ponsonby turning around a 15-11 halftime deficit and playing into the breeze in the second spell, to win by 32-18.
Suburbs and Ponsonby have produced very similar results this season, and in the 14 competition matches both sides have registered 10 wins. In these 14 games Suburbs have scored 393 points, and conceded 260, whilst Ponsonby has scored 386, and had 256 scored against them.
The victor on Saturday afternoon will advance to next week’s Gallaher Shield final, where they would face either College Rifles or Grammar-Tec. There is no prize on Saturday afternoon for the second place-getter and a loss will bring the curtain down on the 2016 season for the one of the teams.
Blue squad member and NZ Under 20 representative Jordan Trainor has been named to start at fullback, in what will be his second start in the blue and black hoops. Trainor featured against College Rifles in the opening match of the club season in April, but his onfield time was cut short after he sustained a nasty injury, side-lining him for six weeks. Outstanding flanker Blake Gibson will start the match from the bench, his first appearance this year.
The match kicks off at 2.45pm at Shadbolt Park.
The Premier Reserves play College Rifles in the semi-final of the George Nicholson Cup, the match kicking off at Western Springs Stadium at 12.30pm.
1 Junior Halafuka; 2 Willie Uili; 3 Marco Fepuleai; 4 Leo Ngahe; 5 Jamie Lane; 6 Sam Slade; 7 Willis Hopwoodi ; 8 Presley Tufuga; 9 Campbell Woodmass; 10 William Talataina-Mu; 11 Danny Tusitala; 12 Pat Tausie; 13 Pryor Collier; 14 Joseph Beckett; 15 Jordan Trainor;
16 Alex Matapo; 17 Steven Savali; 18 Anthony Diack; 19 Blake Gibson; 20 Junior Cagiaceva; 21 Morrison Siliko; 22 Freedom Vaha’akolo;