Rugby: Final in captain's sights

Taieri captain Charlie O'Connell in action against Green Island in May. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Taieri captain Charlie O'Connell in action against Green Island in May. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Taieri captain Charlie O'Connell is confident his team can go the whole way and win the banner.

''We have worked hard all season and would be disappointed if we didn't come away with the banner,'' he said.

''But there are other teams after the same goal and that makes it difficult.

''We are happy where we are. We have worked hard to get there,'' O'Connell said.

''But this is the business end of the season and once the semifinals roll around, everything goes out the window.''

Taieri lost its first game of the season to last year's champion Dunedin but has won everything since.

It has won 15 games on the trot and can expect to end the round robin section of the competition with 17 wins from 18 games and win the Gallaway Trophy.

But that will count for nothing if it is beaten in the semifinal or final.

O'Connell is confident about his team's chances.

''It's good to be hitting our stride towards this important part of the season,'' he said.

''It's a credit to the boys for sticking at it and working at our game and for the coaches in putting the structures in place.''

Taieri is well clear of second-placed Southern and cannot be caught in the Gallaway Trophy competition.

It can concentrate on working on the little things that will help Taieri win the semifinal and final.

''We will work on consistency and being good at the basics,'' O'Connell said.

''We want to be clinical and accurate because that is what wins the big games.''

The goal at the start of the year was to have the best defensive record in the competition.

''At the moment we are doing pretty well at that.''

The semifinals will be played at the University Oval and the final at Forsyth Barr Stadium. Both grounds are conducive to running rugby.

''It suits us and that is all we are worried about,'' O'Connell said.

''The stadium is a world-class surface and suits our brand of rugby.''

A feature of Taieri rugby since it returned to premier ranks in 2009, after eight years in the wilderness, has been the depth in its squad.

''That's been our strength. We are bringing guys off the bench who are adding value.

''It's not just the 22 players we name each Saturday. It's the whole squad.

''Everyone has bought into what we want to achieve. We have great role players in our team and everyone takes their responsibility on their shoulders as well.

''We have got a real luxury on our bench.''