Ponsonby Premiers host Eden in semi-final

Having home ground advantage, Ponsonby might be considered as the favourites in this Saturday’s Gallaher Shield sudden death semi-final.

However, on Saturday Ponsonby will be hosting Eden, who have proven to be more than a serious adversary in the past two seasons. Ponsonby and Eden have squared off on three occasions in 2018, the honours going to Ponsonby in the first two matches, then Eden claimed the win in the third.

This is the third consecutive year that Ponsonby have featured in the Gallaher Shield semi-finals, but have had been unable to progress to the final in the previous two years. In 2016 they faced Suburbs in New Lynn, and were downed by 18-7. In 2017 they travelled to Colin Maiden Park to do battle with University, and were defeated by 27-22.

Correspondingly, this is the first occasion that Eden have had an involvement in the Gallaher Shield semi-finals. In the last two seasons they defeated University at Merton Rd in the Portola Trophy final in 2016 by 27-21, then hosted Grammar-Tec in the final of the Jubilee Cup in 2017, punishing them by 75-28.

Looking beyond the semi-finals, Ponsonby last appeared in a Gallaher Shield final in 2011, which was the last occasion that they held the shield aloft, whilst Eden would dearly love to have their name engraved on the coveted trophy.

The last match with Eden, just three weeks ago, will still be fresh in the minds of the Ponsonby side. The blue and blacks had gone undefeated in the 2018 season until this day, and following the 33-31 loss they went on to draw with Waitemata, then lose to Pakuranga.

Several players return from injury enforced absences to bolster the Ponsonby side for the Eden clash, producing a strong side. Freedom Vaha’akalo and Rocky Khan return to the backline, the latter is sure to be a key playmaker as he was the last time that Ponsonby played Eden at Western Springs. In the pack, Connor Halangahu and Herman Huch return to the front row where they have been a formidable duo this season.. Jamie Lane returns to the middle row in what will be his 40th appearance for the Premier side, and his Blazer game.

The match kicks off at Western Springs Stadium at 2.45pm.

1. Connor Halangahu
2. Steven Savali
3. Herman Huch
4. Sam Slade
5. Jamie Lane
6. Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa
7. Aleks Dabek
8. Taina Fox-Matamua
9. Campbell Woodmass
10. Rocky Khan
11. Freedom Vaha’akalo
12. William Talataina-Mu
13. Patrick Tausie
14. Johnny Cooper
15. Morrison Siliko
16. Willie Uili
17. Wilson Lavelua
18. Alex Matapo
19. Moteiva Ngauamo
20. TJ Faalogo
21. Danny Tusitala
22. Tili Puloka